Shares of payments technology company Square have risen 40% over the past month.
The San Francisco-based business, which went public last November, initially priced its offering at $9 per share, eventually seeing shares spike only to drop in January by as much as 33% to $8.06 per share.
Yet within the last month, Square beat analyst expectations for its fourth quarter earnings, seeing its share price skyrocket by as much as 40% to a high of $15.87 each. Why?
“There’s more faith in the fundamental story of the company,” explains Mark Palmer, an analyst at BTIG Research. Palmer points to Square’s recent announcement about pushing deeper into online lending as also factor in investors betting on the company.
In March, Square announced it would start offering traditional loans with fixed interest rates through its Square Capital arm, which provides previously provided cash advances to merchants using Square’s point-of-sale service.
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Square Capital, which has been one of the company’s fastest growing businesses, is part of Square’s ongoing push into selling software and services alongside its point-of-sale register hardware. The tech company has said it made $400 million in cash advances in 2015—$150 million in the fourth quarter alone—and 70,000 advances to date.
“If you look at what’s going to drive Square’s profitability, it’s not the core merchant processing businesses, it’s the ancillary services Square can offer to small business clients,” explains Palmer. “Loans are in important part of what this picture is going to look like.”
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Square also announced within the last month that it is adding a new way for retailers using its point-of-sale services to add payment processing to their websites for purchases.
Palmer adds that investors who may be hedging their bets may also be a factor in why Square has seen its share price go up. According to Palmer, 43% of the shares initially sold to investors in the company’s float at IPO have been sold short.
But in the absence of any bad news that would send the stock price down, investors have been covering these shorts by buying new shares of Square, nudging the stock price up.
Steve Weinstein of Investment Technology Group, echoes Palmer’s thoughts on additional investor faith in Square.
“There was a lot of public skepticism from investors at the time of the IPO,” Weinstein observes. “But what we’ve seen so far has been executed well and delivered. From an investors standpoint, there is more reason to be comfortable.”
Square shares closed at $15.37 a pop in Monday trading.