Shopee-owner Sea tops quarterly revenue estimates on e-commerce strength

FILE PHOTO: A lanyard showing logos of Southeast Asian e-commerce and gaming group Sea Ltd is pictured at its office in Singapore, March 5, 2021. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

(Reuters) -Southeast Asian technology firm Sea Ltd beat estimates for first-quarter revenue on Tuesday, driven by strong performance of e-commerce unit Shopee, sending U.S.-listed shares of the company up 7% in premarket trading.

Shopee benefited from an early Ramadan, while Sea's digital entertainment business gained from the popularity of online multi-player game Free Fire.

Sea's total revenue grew 23% to $3.73 billion in the quarter ended March 31, compared with analysts' average estimate of $3.56 billion, according to LSEG data.

"Our results in the first quarter have given us a strong start to 2024, and we are well on-track to deliver our full-year guidance," CEO Forrest Li said in a statement.

The $37 billion-firm had a meteoric run in 2020 and 2021, when pandemic-led demand lifted revenues and helped it expand beyond the Southeast Asian markets.

However, a global economic slowdown forced Sea to streamline businesses and cut thousands of jobs.

Exiting India, Europe and some Latin American markets, among other initiatives, helped the company achieve its first annual profit last year.

Sales from e-commerce, its biggest unit, grew 33% to $2.7 billion in the March quarter, compared with LSEG estimates of $2.54 billion.

Bookings at its digital entertainment business, which includes gaming platform Garena, were higher-than-expected at $512.1 million, however, growth in its digital financial services unit came in below expectations.

Sea reported a $23 million net loss compared with a $87.3 million profit a year earlier, as costs rose nearly 50%.

On adjusted basis, the company lost 4 cents per share, missing analysts' average estimate of a 2-cent loss.

(Reporting by Yuvraj Malik in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)

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