February 28, 2018 / 4:51 AM / a year ago

Tencent-backed Sea announces wider-than-expected loss, president's exit

BANGALORE/SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Online gaming and e-commerce firm Sea Ltd (SE.N) reported a larger-than-expected fourth-quarter loss and the departure of its president, who was the public face of the company during its listing in the United States last year.

The Singapore-based firm, which counts China’s Tencent Holdings (0700.HK) as its biggest shareholder, saw its losses magnified by marketing expenses for its new e-commerce division, which more than tripled to $135 million in the quarter as the firm rolled out shipping and other promotions to snag new users.

Yet while its adjusted net loss of $251.6 million for the quarter was larger than the $201 million estimated by an average of three analysts according to Thomson Reuters data, revenue came in above expectations.

Sea’s NYSE-listed shares rose marginally in after-market trading to $12.26, but remain well below the $15 IPO price in October.

The company also unveiled that Nicholas Nash plans to retire from his position as the Group President at the end of 2018. Nash has left the company’s board and been replaced by Tony Tianyu Hou, who is also the firm’s chief financial officer.

A Sea spokeswoman said the company had no immediate plans to appoint a new president.

Analysts at Morgan Stanley, who are overweight on the stock, said that while the results overall were better than expected, there remained some risks to the outlook.

“Intensifying e-commerce competition from global leaders may sustain marketing spend per order, widen losses in the medium term, and prolong the trajectory to profitability,” they said in a note to clients.

Total revenue for the December quarter rose 41 percent on a year earlier to $124.6 million as it launched new games and offered older ones in new markets.

It forecast 2018 full-year revenue of $730 million to $770 million.

Total adjusted revenue rose 72.8 percent to $164.5 million for the quarter, slightly above analysts’ average estimate of $156.3 million. Adjusted revenue for 2017 came in at $553.6 million, slightly ahead of its own forecast of $540 million to $550 million.

Sea posted an adjusted net loss of $251.6 million for the quarter, larger than the $201 million estimated by an average of three analysts according to Thomson Reuters data.

The quarterly net loss attributable to Sea was $262.7 million, or 90 cents per share, from $72.2 million, or 42 cents per share, a year earlier.

Reporting by Tamara Mathias and Sangameswaran S in Bengaluru and Aradhana Aravindan in Singapore; Writing by John Geddie; Editing by Stephen Coates

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