But it would be wrong to dismiss it. Bargain hunters have been creeping into the name recently, hopeful that the company has learned important lessons.
Some were mentioned in my piece. Calling yourself the “Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) of Africa” isn’t the same as delivering Amazon-like services across a vast continent. It’s far more important to become the Alibaba Group Holding (NASDAQ:BABA) of a particular country, and to meet its customers where they are.
The Jumia Habit
Jumia is currently focused on Nigeria and Egypt. The first is a test bed for delivery and profits. The second is becoming its technical headquarters.
Co-CEO Jeremy Hodara is humbler than he was when the company came public in 2019. Back then the intent was to serve the entire continent. Hodara believed traditional business degrees and experience would see the company through to success.
Wall Street bought it. The price of JMIA stock price at more than $65/share in February. But beneath the surface there was trouble. Jumia had to pull out of several markets. The stock tumbled through August and has only recently found its footing, at about $20/share.
Jumia gained early traction as a market for electronics. Hodara said the focus is now on making Jumia a habit, selling clothes and groceries to young Nigerians.
That turns out to be a two-step process. First is logistics, the ability to fill orders. To that end, the company is building pick-up stations. Having a physical presence in a village builds trust, secures the goods and limits costs.
Second is payments. As our Joseph Nograles wrote recently, Jumia is seeking to become the Paypal (NASDAQ:PYPL) of Africa through its JumiaPay service. Electronic financial services can be delivered efficiently. When there’s a physical location from which to access them, using the site can become a habit and profits will follow.
Growth Now, Profits Later
Jumia is still losing money. The aim is to reduce the cash burn while increasing revenue. Analysts expect sales of $35 million for the third quarter, and $45 million for the fourth. Based on those projections they see a modest uptick in the JMIA stock price over the next year.
Meanwhile, the company’s ability to serve its customers online should continue to improve. Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is investing $1 billion in startups and infrastructure across the continent. Alibaba is moving consumer goods in from China.
Jumia hopes to build a niche serving African sellers. That’s one reason it’s hiring 100 developers in Cairo, Egypt, to develop the platform. Despite its European base, Jumia is cultivating a local image, with local executives in each country where it does business, although its leadership page remains pale.
The Bottom Line on JMIA Stock
Our Chris Tyler recently wrote about how traders can use options to maximize profits in Jumia stock while minimizing risk.
At its current market cap of about $2 billion, Jumia is not a big-cap stock. But within its market it’s dominant. Nigeria is the continent’s largest market, with 19.3% of Africa’s nominal gross domestic product in 2019. GDP per capita there was just $2,272.
Jumia has learned the hard way that you can’t just say you’re African and gain success across the continent. Focusing on a few of the largest markets, like Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, learning how to do business there, is the only way to success.
There are no shortcuts. Unicorns are easy prey on a hungry financial veldt. But the potential of the world’s second largest continent, and its young population, is undeniable. Someone is going to get this right.
On the date of publication, Dana Blankenhorn held long positions in AMZN and BABA. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
Dana Blankenhorn has been a financial and technology journalist since 1978. He is the author of Living With Moore’s Law: Past, Present and Future available at the Amazon Kindle store. Write him at email@example.com or tweet him at @danablankenhorn. He writes a Substack newsletter, Facing the Future, which covers technology, markets, and politics.