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Sea Group posts robust growth in 2020 as gaming and e-commerce swell during the pandemic

Written by AJ Cortese Published on     3 mins read

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The company is launching an investment arm and artificial intelligence research lab on the back of a strong 2020 performance.

Singapore-based consumer internet conglomerate Sea Group (NYSE:SE) generated total GAAP revenue of USD 1.6 billion for the fourth quarter of 2020, marking a 101.6% year-over-year (YoY) growth and beating market expectations of USD 1.51 billion, according to the company’s latest financial results released Tuesday.

For the full year of 2020, the firm generated USD 4.4 billion in GAAP revenue, well above the company’s recently raised guidance which forecasted at least USD 3.1 billion in total sales.

Sea Group’s gross profit for 2020 was USD 1.3 billion, more than twice that of 2019, as the company’s twin growth engines of gaming and e-commerce both benefitted significantly from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Revenues from Garena, the company’s gaming business, grew by 111.1% YoY during the fourth quarter reaching USD 1 billion. Garena’s quarterly active users increased by 72.1% YoY to 610.6 million, with 12% counted as paying users, compared to 9.4% in the same period of 2019.

Sea Group’s e-commerce arm, Shopee, posted GAAP revenue of USD 842.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2020, up 178.3% YoY. In the same period, Indonesian consumers placed over 430 million orders, or 4.7 million orders per day, representing a growth of 128% YoY.

Shopee was the most popular shopping app in Southeast Asia in the fourth quarter and full year of 2020 in terms of average monthly active users, total time spent on the app for Android users, and downloads, according to App Annie.

“For example, in the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, we see very strong growth and people embrace online solutions during the COVID-19 period and Shopee becoming increasingly a go-to platform for people’s consumption needs across various segments,” Wang Yanjun, the firm’s chief corporate officer, told investors on the earnings call.

Shopee has been a major beneficiary of changes in consumption habits, as shoppers rely on e-commerce due to COVID-19. Source: KrASIA archive

While the company has made initial e-commerce forays in Brazil and harbors ambitions to penetrate the Latin American markets such as Mexico, it is still early days.

“It is still very preliminary for us and we’ll continue to observe the market,” Wang explained, adding “In terms of the comparison between Latin America and Southeast Asia, I think these are very different markets and we wouldn’t presume that we know those [Latin American] markets very well at this point.”

Benefitting from Shopee’s burgeoning popularity, Sea Group’s mobile payment product SeaMoney also saw a boost in adoption, with its total payment volume reaching USD 2.9 billion and quarterly paying users surpassing 23.2 million, compared to USD 2.1 billion and 17.8 million users in the third quarter of 2020.

The company announced the establishment of Sea Capital, an investment management platform, appointing David Ma as the group’s chief investment officer reporting to Sea Group’s CEO Forrest Li. The move follows Sea Group’s acquisition of Composite Capital, a Hong Kong-based investment firm previously helmed by Ma.

Sea Group also hired Dr. Yan Suicheng, a Singaporean expert on computer vision, machine learning, and multimedia analysis, to create and lead Sea AI Labs, with the goal of driving the development of Southeast Asia’s digital economy.

Sea Group’s share price increased by just 0.59% to USD 250 in trading on Tuesday following the earnings announcement.

For the full year of 2021, Sea Group expects bookings for Garena to be around USD 4.4 billion, representing a 38% YoY growth, while Shopee is estimated to generate USD 4.6 billion in revenue, representing a 112% YoY increase.

(The third paragraph has been updated with the correct gross profit number.)

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