3 Non-Financial Metrics MercadoLibre Investors Need to Know

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Latin American e-commerce giant MercadoLibre (NASDAQ: MELI) operates in a lot of countries with different currencies, which can make it difficult to make sense of its earnings.

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In this Industry Focus: Tech segment, Motley Fool analyst Dylan Lewis and contributor Danny Vena explain some of the best non-financial metrics -- from user base to number of transactions and more -- that interested investors can use to track the company's progress from quarter to quarter.

A full transcript follows the video.

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This video was recorded on June 23, 2017.

Dylan Lewis: We talked about how there are some reporting difficulties with their business, just the fact that they are in all these different markets with different currencies and they're bringing them back in dollars, as they have to, because the SEC wants them to in order to be on the U.S. exchange. I think there are a couple other ways you can look at their business, instead of just staring at their top and bottom lines to get a better sense of what's going on. In my mind, at least, there are a couple of non-financial metrics that investors should keep an eye on that will help strip out some of the lumpiness that comes with that exchange rate, repatriating dollars.

Danny Vena: That's true. As you said, they do business in these 19 different countries, and every country has its own currency when you translate that into dollars. Some of those currencies are going to be up against the dollar, some are going to be down against the dollar, and it makes a mess for trying to figure out whether or not they're doing better in each of these markets or all of these markets as a whole. One of the things that I have done over the years, there are three non-financial metrics that basically strip out those exchange-rate issues and can show you whether or not the business is growing solidly. The first is confirmed users. MercadoLibre currently has about 182 million users. That's year-over-year growth in the most recent quarter of about 20%. The company has actually grown its user base by 20% year over year going back more than five years. That's pretty impressive.

Lewis: That's darn impressive. And that's a number that investors can expect to see every quarter.

Vena: It is. They report that every quarter. Another number that investors can use is the number of items sold. In the most recent quarter, that number increased by 39% year over year to 53 million items. Now, if you go back the last five quarters, that has averaged 40% increases year over year for five quarters, which is also pretty impressive. I can't think of any business that would complain about having that kind of growth.

Lewis: And they also report something on the payments side, right?

Vena: They do. Payment transactions. If you look at metrics like payment volume, again, that's dollar denominated and it's translated by currencies. But if you look at specifically the number of payment transactions that have occurred, in its most recent quarter, that growth was over 60% year over year, to 44 million transactions. That's the ninth consecutive quarter of growth over 60%. Now, there's an interesting note to that. MercadoPago has been so successful on MercadoLibre's platform that in the last several quarters, the last several years, they've been rolling that service out to other merchants that are not on its platform. It's interesting that you mentioned Netflix earlier. A few years ago, when Netflix went into Latin America, one of the problems that they encountered was Latin American consumers don't have credit cards. So eventually Netflix allowed MercadoPago as a form of payment that they accepted.

Danny Vena owns shares of AMZN, MercadoLibre, and NFLX. Dylan Lewis owns shares of AMZN and MercadoLibre. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends AMZN, MercadoLibre, Netflix. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.