Strategy Note /

The 5 top-performing EM e-commerce firms of 2021

  • Our 'winners' in a difficult year for EM-focused e-commerce are Momo, Naver, Nykaa, Zomato and AfreecaTV

  • The five names are in e-commerce and food delivery – segments that have grown very strongly in the Covid era

  • We also highlight 5 high-profile firms whose shares have tanked: Grab, MercadoLibre, Jumia, Didi and Bukalapak

The 5 top-performing EM e-commerce firms of 2021
Nirgunan Tiruchelvam
Nirgunan Tiruchelvam

Head of Consumers Equity Research

Tellimer Research
12 January 2022
Published byTellimer Research

We have picked our five 2021 winners on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Exposure to tech-driven sectors, such as e-commerce and food delivery

  • Exposure to emerging markets

  • Average turnover of at least US$50mn

  • Absolute share price performance in 2021 (Taiwan)

US$ total return: +232% | market cap: US$10.66bn dominates online shopping in Taiwan and has emerged as one of the leading e-commerce firms outside the US and China. Its principal products are beauty items, clothing, leather goods and food.

Its outperformance was powered by the belief that Taiwan’s e-commerce penetration is about to explode, the country being a densely populated, urbanised and tech-savvy island but with an e-commerce penetration rate (the percentage of total households in a country that have bought goods online at least once within the past 12 months) of just 13%. We expect that figure to double by 2030 and will surely be a major beneficiary of this trend.'s outstanding performance was also driven by its exposure to the business-to-business (B2B) segment. It should be able to generate growth from online-to-offline (O2O) integration and the extension of logistics services. Revenue (TWD Mn)

E Commerce Penetration in Taiwan

Afreecatv (South Korea)

US$ total return: +235% | market cap: US$1.87bn

AfreecaTV provides new media platform services in South Korea. It offers video streaming with a wide array of content offerings, provided through its joint venture with Seoul Broadcasting Services (SBS). AfreecaTV began as an e-sports platform and has a tight grip on the youth market.

We think its strong showing in 2021 was driven by its transformation from a gaming company to a leader in the streaming sector. Streaming revenue is highly sought after by investors looking for companies that could replicate Netflix's success in emerging markets.

AfreecaTV Normalized EBITDA (KRW Mn)

FSN E-Commerce Ventures (Nykaa – India)

US$ total return: +87% (from 10 November) | market cap: US$13.35bn

Nykaa is a beauty products e-commerce provider in India, owned by FSN E-Commerce Ventures, the listed entity. FSN raised US$750m in November in one of India's best-performing IPOs, which was oversubscribed 82 times.

Nykaa operates throughout India and its success has been driven by the surge in e-commerce usage in the country, with the pandemic providing a massive boost to the company – revenue rose 97% in the year ending September 2021.

FSN's strong showing in the stock market can be attributed to Nykaa's successful execution and its mastery of the logistical challenges of operating an e-commerce business in India, managing to deliver its products within four days.

Moreover, Nykaa has adopted an 'omni-channel strategy', combining online and offline. Alongside its website and app, Nykaa also has 85 stores in 40 Indian cities, where customers can test its cosmetic products.

FSN E-commerce ventures Ltd Revenue (INR Mn)

Naver (South Korea)

US$ total return: 29% | market cap: US$47.40bn

Naver is a web portal and e-commerce leader headquartered in South Korea. It is the country's leading search portal. Its products include the 'Line' messenger service, which has nearly 200mn users through Asia. Its market share in South Korean e-commerce is 19% and the company now plans to become the largest search engine and e-commerce player in Japan.

Naver's level of success is such that it is a contender to become South Korea's leading super app. It provides a search function, along the lines of Google's, and has a major market share in e-commerce. Its huge messaging platform provides it with the means to expand in the region.

Naver Corp Normalized EBITDA (KRW Mn)

Zomato (India)

US$ total return: +78% (from 23 July) | market cap: US$14.52bn

Zomato is a food delivery platform headquartered in India that IPOed last summer. It provides the public and delivery partners with the ability to search and order from restaurants, and to review and rate them. It now commands a 55% market share of India's food delivery market. Its closest competitor is Swiggy.

Zomato's outperformance could be due to its rise as an EM food delivery proxy and it has expanded to several countries in South Asia and MENA, including Bangladesh and the UAE.

Covid provided a huge boost to Zomato's operations. Its gross merchandise revenue (GMV) more than doubled in FY 21, driving a contraction in the company's EBITDA losses. There is a strong likelihood of EBITDA positivity if its GMV expansion continues.

Zomato Normalized EBITDA (INR Mn)

Online Food Delivery Market Share

...And five high-profile underperformers

Below, we highlight five high-profile but under-performing e-commerce names. Click on the links for more analysis:

  1. Grab (Singapore): US$ total return: -45% | market cap: US$26.67bn

  2. MercadoLibre (Argentina): US$ total return: -20% | market cap: US$68.09bn

  3. Jumia (Nigeria): US$ total return: -72% | market cap: US$1.12bn

  4. Didi (China): US$ total return: -70% | market cap: US$24.02bn

  5. Bukalapak (Indonesia): US$ total return: -61% (From August 6 2021) | market cap: US$3.10bn