By Micah Maidenberg
MercadoLibre Inc. /zigman2/quotes/200678442/composite MELI +1.36% said its loss widened in the fourth quarter but reported sales that surpassed expectations from analysts.
The e-commerce company focused on Latin American said it generated $674.3 million in sales for the quarter, up from $428 million the year earlier. Analysts polled by FactSet predicted $667 million for the latest period.
MercadoLibre also reported a loss of almost $54 million, or $1.11 a share, compared with a loss of $2.3 million, or 5 cents a share, the year prior.
Analysts expected the Buenos Aires-based company to report an adjusted loss of 74 cents a share.
Operating expense surged 84% to $377.2 million, as the company ramped up its spending on marketing and related costs.
"We believe we are investing appropriately behind growth," MercadoLibre finance chief Pedro Arnt said in a statement.
The company also reported gross-merchandise volume in the latest period rose to $3.9 billion, a gain of 40% after adjusting for currency movements. The metric tracks the dollar sum of all transactions completed through its online market, excluding classified advertising.
The company also reported $8.7 billion in payment volume on MercadoPago, which allows users to send and receive digital payments and merchants to process transactions via their websites and mobile apps, among other uses.
MercadoLibre is active across South and Central America, but faces competition from Amazon.com Inc. /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN +2.83% in some countries, as well as with Facebook Inc. /zigman2/quotes/205064656/composite FB +2.02% and various smaller companies.
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