Investors nurturing positive outlooks toward PayPal Holdings Inc. are keenly awaiting the company’s upcoming earnings report this Wednesday afternoon. It marks the first under the guidance of new CEO Alex Chriss. In his new role, Chriss faces the formidable challenge of reversing the company’s downward trajectory. The stock price plummeted by 27% this year, edging towards its third consecutive annual decline.
Can PayPal Make Stockholders Happy?
A vocal segment of the market is advocating for a resurgence of fiscal prudence, particularly in the wake of some questionable acquisitions made under former CEO Dan Schulman. Notably, the $4 billion purchase of the online coupon platform Honey in 2020 stands out. “If the CEO can double down on this and firmly champion the stock as a symbol of fiscal prudence, I believe some might be caught off-guard, especially those betting against the stock,” commented Brian Frank, the portfolio manager of the Frank Value Fund.
PayPal’s decline from its zenith of approximately $308 in 2021 has driven its valuation to a record low of 9.4 times projected earnings. This valuation positions it slightly above HP Inc. but below Comcast Corp. in terms of cost.
Most Wall Street analysts remain optimistic about PayPal’s prospects—56% endorse a buy-equivalent rating. Their average price target hovers around $82 per share, signaling an enticing upside potential of nearly 60%.
A Prominent Company But Not on The Stock Market
Despite this, PayPal’s shares have struggled to rally. Persistent pressures on payment fee rates and transaction margins burden them. Even after experiencing a surge post-pandemic, analysts express concerns that payment firms may not recapture the robust growth of previous years.
Even the most bullish Wall Street analysts believe a tangible turnaround will span several quarters before providing clear dividends to investors. This highlights Chriss, who assumed leadership at PayPal in September after a 19-year tenure at Intuit Inc.
“For PayPal’s stock to truly thrive, it’s imperative to see signs of stabilizing or even enhancing transaction margin economics,” penned Morgan Stanley analyst James Faucette. “Moreover, we’re closely monitoring the strategic vision outlined by the CEO, particularly regarding margin enhancement, Venmo’s monetization, and striking a balance between investment needs and profitability.”
Morgan Stanley, with an overweight rating and a $126 price target on PayPal shares, maintains that e-commerce growth could facilitate a positive reevaluation of the stock. Nonetheless, it acknowledges the challenges that lie ahead.
A Promising Future, For Now
PayPal has committed to deploying $5 billion towards additional share buybacks in 2023, representing nearly 10% of its current market capitalization. The company ranks among the highest in the Nasdaq 100, as per Bloomberg’s compiled data. By the close of the second quarter, PayPal had already allocated about $3 billion to repurchase its shares.
As PayPal embarks on this new chapter, the financial world remains hopeful that under Chriss’s stewardship, the company will navigate the rough waters and steer toward a future of prosperity and growth.
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