Square stock soars after earnings 'beat by a mile,' analysts applaud growth in Cash App

Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey speaks during a press event at CES 2019 on January 9, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
David Becker | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Shares of Square surged 13% on Friday after blowing past Wall Street’s expectations for the quarter a day earlier.

The San Francisco-based payments company reported a 140% increase in net revenue to $3.03 billion in the third quarter. Adjusted earnings came in at 34 cents, more than double what analysts polled by Refinitiv expected.

The Square Cash app was a key driver of the strong results, and of analysts’ enthusiasm. The payments and banking app more than tripled its gross profits from a year ago, and made up almost half of the company’s total gross profit of $794 million.

The app began as a peer-to-peer payment option, similar to PayPal’s Venmo. But Square has since launched multiple bank-like products that piggyback on the app, including cryptocurrency and stock trading, that have driven stronger unit economics and profitability than Venmo.

The results were a hit among multiple Wall Street analysts who recommended the stock to clients on Friday. Citi, Cannacord Genuity, Needham, Mizuho and Susquehanna upgraded price targets on Square after the break-out quarter. In a note to clients, Citi analyst Peter Christiansen called Square’s growth opportunity “too big to ignore.”

Lisa Ellis of Moffett Nathanson maintained her “buy” rating on Square but increased earnings estimates through 2021. Despite the stock’s run-up this year and “rather elevated investor expectations,” the company managed to “beat by a mile,” Ellis said in a note to clients.

Guggenheim’s Jeff Cantwell highlighted potential for Square to mimic the success of China’s Alipay, writing that “Square should build Cash App into a super app.” Dan Dolev of Mizuho pointed to growth in the Cash App’s brokerage feature, and said the app showed it “can also be Robinhood,” referring to the popular free-trading app.

The boom in Cash App offset relatively slower growth in Square’s core seller business that provides in-person payments at brick and mortar locations, such as coffee shops. Small businesses who rely on Square’s payment terminals have been hit especially hard during the pandemic. But the seller business sustained “its remarkable rebound,” Moffett Nathanson’s Ellis said, with gross profits up 12% from the year-ago quarter.

The stock is up 217% year to date, and has gained 28% in the past week alone.

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