Sea Ltd., operator of Southeast Asia’s biggest gaming platform, has had a rough start as a public company.
The much-heralded Singapore-based company raised about $1 billion in an October initial public offering led by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse Group AG. The shares have tumbled almost 20 percent since then and losses are widening. When the company reports results Wednesday, it’s projected to lose $201 million in the three months ended in December, more than double the net loss a year earlier, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue probably increased 75 percent to $154.5 million.
Analysts are unperturbed. Every single one of the seven who cover the company recommend buying its shares, according to Bloomberg’s data, with an average target price about 50 percent higher than Friday’s close of $12.16. That sets up a looming confrontation with short sellers, who are betting the stock will fall. The short position hit a record 6.3 million shares at the end of January.
Analysts view Sea as Southeast Asia’s leading growth company with backing from Chinese colossus Tencent Holdings Ltd. that should help it capitalize on the region’s adoption of games, e-commerce and digital payments. Skeptics see little evidence that Sea is developing anything resembling a business model: Indeed, the company is estimated to have lost $527 million in the last year — almost as much as its…