Coupang Stock is Reasonably Priced, But Patience is Key

So far, it’s been the biggest IPO this year. Yet, that hasn’t meant much for investors who bought Coupang (NYSE:CPNG) stock after it began trading on the New York Stock Exchange back in March. On its first day of trading, it hit prices topping $69 per share. After that? It’s been a long slide for the South Korea-based e-commerce play.

CPNG stock
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Today, changing hands for around $39 per share, this possible future peer to Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) or Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) appears reasonably priced. But that doesn’t mean it has the ability to bounce back immediately.

What’s likely to happen instead? Investors will continue to treat this as a “wait and see” situation. That is, wait for the current worries over rising inflation, slowing economic growth, and rising interest rates to pass. In addition, wait for the company to show that it’s still the growth story the company sold itself as at the time of its IPO.

Where does that leave those interested in buying it today? It may be best to wait to follow the market’s lead. Wait for the above-mentioned market-wide and company-specific concerns to pass. If there’s further near-term volatility, you may be able to snap it up at even lower prices.

The Good and The Bad With CPNG Stock

The key positive with Coupang shares right now may be its valuation relative to its projected growth. At today’s prices, it trades at a price-to-sales (P/S) ratio of around 3.5x (based on 2021 revenue projections). Based on projections for its 2022 revenues, as it trades at a P/S ratio of around 2.5x.

That’s more than reasonable compared to more mature e-commerce plays like Amazon and Alibaba. Not to mention, dirt-cheap relative to other large e-commerce companies based outside the U.S., such as MercadoLibre (NASDAQ:MELI). Why are investors quick to discount CPNG stock, despite estimates calling for sales growth of 58.1% this year, and 38.4% next year?

Taking a look at the negatives, it makes sense why investors have been cautious. InvestorPlace’s Mark Hake late last month pointed out two factors that could limit its gains in the near-term. First, the company’s most recent quarterly results were mediocre. This may be a sign of continued disappointment in the quarters/years ahead. Second, the fact it’s still unprofitable. Investors may remain in “wait and see” mode until it gets out of the red.

That’s not all. Besides these company-specific issues, the above-mentioned overarching concerns could also prevent Coupang shares from recovering over the next few months. In fact, market-wide worries may mean shares have more room to fall in the interim, before climbing back over the long-term.

Why Near-Term Uncertainty Could Create a Buying Opportunity

Considering its long-term potential, today’s company-specific concerns about CPNG stock may be overblown. As it continues to grow in its home market, and completes its expansion into other Asian markets, investor sentiment for this stock stands to shift back from negative to positive. From there, the stock could start a gradual ascent back toward its all-time high.

With this in mind, locking down a long-term position at $39 per share seems worthwhile. But the opportunity to buy it at even lower prices is possibly just around the corner. Why? given the risk that large-scale concerns could knock down growth stocks once again.

If the “inflation is transitory” narrative continues to become harder to argue for, and worries about slowing economic growth mount? We could see a repeat of the short-lived sell off in growth stocks experienced back in May. During that time frame, Coupang shares briefly fell to as low as $30.65 per share. It may not repeat itself completely. But it could mean you’re able to enter a long-term position at prices 10%-20% below where the stock trades today.

Considering the factors that could limit its ability to bounce back in the short-term? There’s little risk in waiting for such a double-bottom to happen.

With Coupang, Patience is the Keyword

Coupang is an interesting growth story. As I wrote back in March, achieving high levels of growth in mature economies like South Korea could be a challenge. But considering factors like its focus on delivery efficiency, this up-and-coming e-commerce company has a shot of pulling it off.

With its decline since its debut, investors have priced it at a valuation that’s more than reasonable given its growth potential. Yet that by itself may not mean today’s the time to go and out and enter a position.

Another growth stock correction, caused by rising worries about inflation, interest rates, and slowing growth, could push CPNG stock back down near its lows. Given this factor, “wait and see” remains the best move for now.

On the date of publication, Thomas Niel did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

Thomas Niel, a contributor for InvestorPlace.com, has been writing single-stock analysis for web-based publications since 2016.


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