MercadoLibre soars on Q4 beat, short-covering

With shares off sharply from their October highs (thanks in large part to Argentine/Venezuelan forex concerns), MercadoLibre (MELI +13.6%) is soaring following a Q4 beat fueled by a stronger op. margin (+832 bps Q/Q and +100 bps Y/Y to 38.7%) and a 30% Y/Y increase in GMV to $2.14B.

With 26.5% of the float shorted as of Feb. 14, short-covering is doubtlessly contributing to today's gains.

Items sold rose 20% Y/Y in Q4 to 22.8M, and transactions handled by the MercadoPago payments service rose 34% to 9M. 4.5M registered users were added, raising the total to 99.5M.

CFO Pedro Arnt mentioned on the CC (transcript) MercadoLibre's Venezuelan sold items fell 12% Y/Y, but insisted the company's local ops remain profitable. He also noted e-commerce still accounts for only 3% of Latin America's retail volume (well below U.S. levels).

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