Afterpay annual loss halves as pandemic spurs U.S. sales

Adds forecast, shares, background

Aug 27 (Reuters)Australian buy now, pay later (BNPL) firm Afterpay Ltd APT.AX said on Thursday its full-year loss more than halved, as the value of orders processed through its platform in the United States quadrupled during the COVID-19 pandemic.

An online shopping boom triggered by the coronavirus outbreak has significantly benefited the BNPL sector and turned Afterpay into one of Australia’s 20 most valuable stocks.

The company’s shares have surged more than 10-fold since March.

The Tencent Holdings-backed 0700.HK firm said its active customer base had more than doubled to 9.9 million at year-end.

In the United States, active customers more than tripled during the year, while underlying sales in the country jumped to A$4 billion from A$900 million a year earlier.

Afterpay, which offers small interest-free instalment loans to shoppers and makes money by charging merchants a commission, said it would explore opportunities to expand in select Asian markets in 2021.

The company, which collaborates with brands including Urban Outfitters Inc URBN.O, Ulta Beauty Inc ULTA.O, ASOS Plc ASOS.L and Boohoo Group BOOH.L, had announced plans to expand into Europe earlier this week.

Afterpay reported a loss attributable to shareholders of A$19.8 million ($14.3 million) for the year ended June 30, compared with a loss of A$42.9 million a year earlier.

Core earnings jumped 73% to A$44.4 million, in line with the company’s own hiked forecast last week.

($1 = 1.3833 Australian dollars)

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(Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi and Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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