Market Overview

A Square Bull Turns Neutral After 77% Gain In 2018, Increased Competition

A Square Bull Turns Neutral After 77% Gain In 2018, Increased Competition
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Shares of Square Inc (NYSE: SQ) are up 77 percent since the start of 2018, which looks even more impressive on top of 2017's gain of 159 percent. Aggressive investors may want to consider "taking a break," as the stock now looks fully priced, according to Buckingham Research Group. 

The Analyst

Analyst Chris Brendler downgraded Square from Buy to Neutral with a price target lifted from $55 to $65.

The Thesis

Square's stock is now trading at a "very full" 30x Buckingham's 2021 EBITDA estimate despite continued expectations for a "super-compelling growth story" over the coming years, Brendler said in the downgrade note. (See the analyst's track record here.)

The stock's multiple at current levels warrants a closer look at its Instant Deposit business, which served as the "primary driver" of 2017's top-line growth, the analyst said.

Square's multiple implies a growing contribution from the ID business, Brendler said. Heightened competition from First Data Corp (NYSE: FDC) and Paypal Holdings Inc (NASDAQ: PYPL) should have investors concerned that Square's pricing isn't sustainable over the long-term, even among the less price-sensitive micro merchants, he said. 

Square's competitive moat remains big, but "not THAT big," the analyst said. First Data's Clover platform is on pace to overtake Square as the iPOS leader by 2020, and First Data's rival to Square's Instant Deposit offers rapid funding to clients' bank accounts for free — Paypal's fee is a flat 25 cents per transaction, Brendler said. 

Investors still have reason to "love the story," but the analyst's lifted $65 price target for the payments company implies just 3-percent potential upside.

Price Action

Square shares were up 0.79 percent at the time of publication Wednesday morning. 

Related Links:

Wedbush Names PayPal As A 'Best Idea,' Projects 20% Upside

Morgan Stanley: Paypal-iZettle Deal Presents A Challenge To Square

Photo courtesy of Square. 

Latest Ratings for SQ

Nov 2018BarclaysInitiates Coverage OnOverweight
Nov 2018Wells FargoMaintainsMarket PerformMarket Perform
Nov 2018SusquehannaDowngradesPositiveNeutral

View More Analyst Ratings for SQ
View the Latest Analyst Ratings

Posted-In: Buckingham Research Group Chris Brendler paymentsAnalyst Color Downgrades Price Target Analyst Ratings Best of Benzinga


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