Back in 2021, when we looked at fintech giant PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL), it was difficult to envision a future where it would lose nearly 80% of its market value in just two and a half years. While the broader market has staged a remarkable recovery from the lows of the past year, PayPal’s stock has not only failed to bounce back but has continued its downward trajectory. Amidst mounting competitive pressures, it’s increasingly apparent that PayPal may not be the attractive bargain it appears to be.
The fintech darlings, including PayPal, faced challenges long before the broader market hit a rough patch in 2022. Despite the newfound optimism in the S&P 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (NDX), these once high-flying fintech firms have struggled to regain their former glory. In the current landscape, there are several reasons to adopt a bearish outlook on PayPal as it grapples with relentless competition in the fintech sector.
PayPal’s Ecosystem Under Siege
Reflecting on the past, it’s evident that many investors overestimated PayPal’s growth potential. Despite operating in one of the most promising segments of the tech sector, financial technology, PayPal’s stock price has fallen victim to macroeconomic headwinds and intensifying competition. Undoubtedly, there is inherent value in PayPal’s ecosystem.
However, as a growing number of competitors, most notably the FAANG/big-tech companies, expand their presence in the digital payments arena, PayPal must innovate to retain its user base. Rivals now offer services that extend beyond digital payments, encompassing cloud storage, entertainment (video, music, and gaming), and comprehensive financial services.
For instance, tech behemoth Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) boasts an ecosystem that sets industry standards. It delivers a range of services, from cloud storage to entertainment and financial products. Notably, Apple has reshaped financial services, offering users unprecedented transparency and financial “hygiene.” Unlike traditional financial institutions, Apple strives to benefit its users by providing clear insights into interest rates and competitive offerings.
Apple’s approach disrupts the conventional financial services model that thrives on hidden fees and high-interest rates. By placing user financial well-being at the forefront, Apple has managed to attract a new wave of users in a market ripe for change. While PayPal and other fintech pioneers continue to face challenges, FAANG firms are expanding their presence across various financial services sectors.
PayPal’s Stock Valuation: Historically Low
PayPal’s stock currently trades at a historically low multiple, with a trailing price-to-earnings ratio of 17.7, significantly below its five-year historical average of 54.64. This valuation suggests that the days of rapid growth may be behind the company. In its latest quarter, PayPal reported revenue growth of just 7%, a far cry from the double-digit growth it once enjoyed.
Although PayPal’s venture into cryptocurrencies introduces an element of uncertainty, it’s unlikely that a PayPal-branded digital token alone can catapult the stock back to its former glory and growth multiple. The fintech landscape has become fiercely competitive, with numerous tech giants targeting digital payments.
Despite the appeal of its current stock price, PayPal may need to make difficult strategic decisions to regain momentum. Such decisions could involve sacrificing profit margins, a challenging move, particularly in a rising-rate environment. Unfortunately, the options available to PayPal to remain competitive appear limited in this evolving fintech era.
Analysts’ Perspective on PayPal
Analysts offer a mixed view on PayPal. According to TipRanks, PYPL stock is rated as a Moderate Buy. Among 30 analyst ratings, there are 20 Buy recommendations and 10 Holds. The average PayPal stock price target stands at $87.38, implying an upside potential of 41.1%. Price targets range from a low of $65.00 per share to a high of $126.00 per share.
In the rapidly evolving fintech landscape, it’s challenging to be overly optimistic about PayPal, even with its comparatively low price-to-earnings ratio. Tech giants are aggressively expanding their presence in digital payments, posing a real threat to PayPal’s market share. Recent developments, such as investment firm Elliot Management’s exit from its PayPal stake, further underscore the challenges facing the company.
While there may still be opportunities for PayPal to regain its footing, the road ahead appears fraught with fierce competition and shifting dynamics in the fintech sector. The company’s ability to navigate these turbulent waters will determine whether it can reclaim its former status as a fintech leader or continue to grapple with its current challenges.