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Matt’s September Update: International Opportunities

7investing advisor Matt Cochrane is interested in a Singapore-based game publisher and digital leader as an investment opportunity.

September 22, 2020

Singapore-based Sea Ltd (NASDAQ:SE) is quickly becoming a digital powerhouse, with three fast-growing segments poised to capture upside in some of today’s most exciting industries, including video games, mobile commerce, and digital payments. One of the keys to Sea’s success has been its focus on mobile-first platforms.

Sea’s Garena is a global game developer and publisher with a significant presence in Southeast Asia and Latin America. In 2019, its game, Free Fire, was the most downloaded mobile game in the world across Google Play and iOS, according to App Annie. In its latest quarter, Sea’s digital entertainment (DE) revenue grew to $716 million, a 62% increase year-over-year.

Shopee is Sea’s e-commerce platform that connects buyers and sellers “supported by integrated payment, logistics, fulfillment, and other value-added services.” Revenue in the e-commerce segment jumped an incredible 188% over last year’s second quarter to $511 million.

SeaMoney offers e-wallet services, payment processing, credit-related digital financial offerings, and other financial products, and is marketed and branded in different SouthEast Asian markets as AirPay, ShopeePay, ShopeePayLater, and other brands. While still the smallest of Sea’s business segments by a large margin, the mobile wallet platform saw more than $1.6 billion in total payment volume and more than 15 million quarterly active users in Sea’s most recent quarter.

It can be difficult to learn about a company’s home market and some of the regulations specific to certain regions. For a company like Sea, where it operates in many markets that most U.S. investors are not familiar with — such as Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam – gaining this knowledge can be especially difficult. One shortcut I use is the Index of Economic Freedom, which ranks countries on such things as property rights, judicial effectiveness, and government integrity. While far from perfect, I believe it can give a quick look at a country’s overall hospitality to businesses.

In 2020, Singapore ranked first out of the 180 countries ranked with a score of 89.4 (for reference the U.S was 17th with a score of 76.6). However, other countries where Sea has large operations, such as Vietnam (105th), are ranked much lower.

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