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UPDATE 1-MercadoLibre beats estimates on pandemic-driven online shopping boost

(Adds details on profit, transactions, shares)

Nov 4 (Reuters) - MercadoLibre Inc, Latin America’s top e-commerce firm, reported better-than-expected third-quarter revenue and profit on Wednesday, helped by a surge in online shopping and digital payment transactions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company’s U.S.-listed shares, which have surged over two-fold this year, were up nearly 3% in extended trading.

The company, whose market capitalization has doubled this year to $61.3 billion, has pinned its hopes on the coronavirus-fueled shift to online retail and user growth for its digital financial services in Latin America, where half of the population lacks bank accounts.

The company said its unique active users nearly doubled to 76.1 million and payments transaction on the platform of Mercado Pago, the finance arm of MercadoLibre, surged about 147% to 559.7 million in the third quarter.

MercadoLibre reported net income of $15 million, or 28 cents per share, for the quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with a net loss of $146.1 million, or $2.96 per share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of 17 cents per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Revenue rose 85% to $1.12 billion in the quarter, much above analysts’ average estimate of $972.31 million. (Reporting by Chavi Mehta in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M. and Maju Samuel)

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