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May 5, 2020, 4:43 p.m. EDT

MercadoLibre's Q1 sales top views

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By Micah Maidenberg

MercadoLibre Inc. beat first-quarter revenue expectations as the coronavirus took hold in its target markets in Latin America in first quarter.

"Our business did register this impact, primarily during the first weeks of the imposed lockdowns, with a rebound throughout April," finance chief Pedro Arnt said in a statement Tuesday.

The Buenos Aires-based operator of a Latin American e-commerce platform reported a net loss of $21.1 million, or 44 cents a share, compared with a profit of $11.9 million, or 13 cents a share, in the first quarter of 2019. Analysts predicted a net loss of 57 cents for the last period or 39 cents a share after adjustments.

MercadoLibre said it generated revenue of $652.1 million for the first quarter, up from $473.8 million a year earlier. Analysts expected $635 million in revenue, according to FactSet.

Initially, consumers appeared to have pulled back on spending on non-essential items in the quarter, leading to stronger growth for packaged goods and games, according to MercadoLibre. But some higher priced items like consumer electronics saw sales decline, the company said.

MercadoLibre reported $3.4 billion in first-quarter gross-merchandise volumes, a metric that measures the worth of goods sold on its platform.

That was up 34% after stripping out currency moves compared with last year, a slower gain than the 40% increase the company reported for the fourth quarter.

Write to Micah Maidenberg at micah.maidenberg@wsj.com

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