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Why Sea Limited Stock Popped Then Dropped Today

Shares of Sea Limited (NYSE: SE) popped then dropped on Monday after the company reported its results for 2023's fourth quarter before the market opened. It was a great quarter and year for the company, leading to enthusiasm from the market. But uncertainty regarding 2024 threw cold water on investors' initial fiery enthusiasm. Though it had been up by nearly 14% in early trading, it then fell, sinking to as low as down 2.5%. As of 12:40 p.m. ET, Sea stock was up by about 4.5%.

A year of progress

Sea operates a video game business, an e-commerce platform, and financial technology (fintech) services. In 2023, these segments collectively earned the company its first full-year net profit since it went public in 2017. Net income for the year was $163 million compared with a $1.7 billion loss in 2022.

In late 2022, Sea drastically reduced its sales and marketing spending in an effort to pivot to profitability. However, it started seeing opportunities to gain market share with its Shopee e-commerce platform. The good news is that management said it had a "meaningful gain in market share" in 2023. The bad news is that it had a Q4 net loss of $112 million because it had ramped up its sales and marketing spending once again to achieve that expanded market share. That was, though, better than analysts had expected.

What should Sea investors do now?

Growth investors are wondering about Sea stock now because it only grew its revenue by 5% in 2023 -- that isn't much. And the market continues to fret that competition for Sea's Shopee platform could increase in the coming year.

These concerns might be valid, but I believe the stock's valuation more than compensates for it considering it still only trades at 2 times its trailing sales. Moreover, the company has three business segments, and looking at them collectively can obscure some of the positive developments they've had individually. For example, Shopee's e-commerce revenue for the year was up 31%, and Sea's fintech platform turned its first profit.

In my view, there are still plenty of reasons to be optimistic about Sea, even though there are also concerning things to watch. But overall, the year ended on a promising note for the company.

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Jon Quast has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Sea Limited. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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