It has been a great year for the stock market. In 2019, the S&P 500 is up an impressive 25% — marking one of its best annual performances ever — and presently sits at record highs.
For payments processor Square (NYSE:SQ), though, 2019 has been a tumultuous year. Sure, Square stock is up 22% this year. But in 2019, SQ stock has undergone multiple 30%-plus rallies and multiple 20%-plus selloffs. Moreover, SQ stock is also up just 8% over the past 52 weeks, versus a 20% gain for the S&P 500. Finally, SQ still trades more than 30% off its mid-2018 highs, whereas the S&P is well above its mid-2018 highs.
In other words, Square stock has struggled over the past 12-plus months. These struggles can be chalked up to concerns about the company’s slowing growth and rising competition, and the stretched valuation of Square stock.
Fortunately for those who are bullish on SQ, these struggles will likely end soon. Over the next 12-plus months, Square stock looks positioned for a huge rally that investors won’t want to miss.
Five positive catalysts, outlined below, will drive this gigantic rally.
The Global Economic and Consumer Backdrops Are Improving
The global economic and consumer-spending environments are improving heading into 2020.
Escalating global trade tensions over the past 18 months have weighed on global corporate confidence, depressed capital spending, and slowed global economic activity. Heading into 2020, those trade tensions are easing. They should continue to decline. As they do, global corporate confidence, capital spending, and economic activity will rebound.
That will boost already strong consumer spending.
As a result, consumer spending trends should improve in 2020 and meaningfully lift Square’s growth trends.
Square’s Payment Growth Trends Are Stabilizing
Thanks to Square’s product innovations and its efforts to attract more merchants, Square’s growth trends are stabilizing after several quarters of deceleration.
As SQ has grown over the past few quarters and has looked to recruit larger retailers, it has encountered more competition. Meanwhile, the growth of the small and medium retailer market, where SQ has long dominated, has largely disappeared As a result of these trends, the company’s growth rates have slowed. From the first quarter of 2018 to the second quarter of 2019, Square’s gross payment volume (GPV) growth rates have consistently slowed, dropping from 31% to 25% during that time.
But in Q3 of 2019, Square’s GPV rose 25% versus Q2, indicating that its GPV growth is stabilizing. This stabilization is a sign that Square’s product innovation and its efforts to attract more merchants are working. Additionally, it appears that more retailers are entering Square’s ecosystem.
If this stabilization persists — and it should — then investors are likely to become much more upbeat on SQ stock heading into 2020.
Cash App Is Well-Positioned for Huge Growth
Square’s Cash App is rapidly turning into a force to be reckoned with in the mobile payments world, which is continuously growing. Next year could be a big “coming out” party for the relatively new app.
Cash App is very similar to PayPal’s (NASDAQ:PYPL) Venmo. Like Venmo, Cash App is a peer-to-peer (P2P) mobile payments app. But Cash App is becoming so much more than that. With Cash App, consumers can now get a payment card that’s linked to their Cash App account, buy items with the card at attractive discounts, and even invest in stocks.
In essence, Cash App is rapidly becoming an all-in-one mobile money ecosystem.
Cash App is still relatively new. So are many of its features. As a result, the number of people using the app is still relatively small. But as awareness of Cash App spreads in 2020, its growth could accelerate tremendously, meaningfully lifting Square stock.
SQ Stock Is Attractively Positioned
Fourth, Square stock is well-positioned to rally tremendously in 2020.
Looking at the market landscape right now, nearly everything worth buying is roaring to all-time highs. The Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEARCA:XLK) is at all-time highs. The SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF (NYSEARCA:XHB) is at all-time highs. Most consumer staples and consumer discretionary stocks are trading at or near all-time highs. Many growth and value stocks are at all-time highs.
But Square stock is not at or near its all-time highs.
That leaves SQ stock poised to climb in 2020. Investors will eventually get tired of chasing stocks at all-time highs. They will start looking to sell winning stocks and buy losing ones. And when they do that, they will look to buy losers that still have solid fundamentals and can grow meaningfully.
That’s exactly what Square stock is.
The Valuation of SQ Stock Is Attractive
The valuation of Square stock is attractive.
Due to its various growth drivers, including the continuous pivot towards card transactions and the rise of mobile commerce, Square’s revenue can easily climb 20%-plus annually for the foreseeable future. During that stretch, its margins should improve as it grows, and its profits should rise at a steady 30%-plus rate.
Assuming it achieves those milestones, Square’s earnings per share can hit $4 in fiscal 2025. The price-earnings ratios of mature payments companies, like Visa (NYSE:V) and Mastercard (NYSE:MA), are normally around 30. Assuming the multiple of SQ stock will be 30 in 2025, then a reasonable FY24 price target for Square stock is about $120.
Discounted back by 10% per year, that equates to a 2019 price target for SQ stock of $75.
The Bottom Line on SQ Stock
Square stock has struggled over the past 12 months. But over the next 12 months, Square stock could advance, thanks to improving consumer spending trends, stabilizing volume growth, the growth of Cash App, SQ’s attractive positioning, and its favorable valuation.
As of this writing, Luke Lango was long SQ and PYPL.