‘We keep waiting for a shot, but Square has been too good’: Here’s what Wall Street is saying about Square’s disappointing guidance (SQ)

Jack Dorsey CEO Twitter Square

Square on Wednesday reported better-than-expected third-quarter revenue and profits, but its fourth-quarter profits guidance disappointed.

The mobile-payment provider posted adjusted earnings of $0.13 a share on adjusted revenue of $431 million, beating the $0.11 and $414 million that Wall Street analysts surveyed by Bloomberg were expecting.

Looking ahead, Square says it sees fourth-quarter earnings of $0.12 to $0.13 a share. That was a bit shy of the $0.15 that was expected.

Meanwhile, Square boosted its full-year earnings-per-share guidance to $0.45 to $0.46 a share on $1.57 billion of revenue. Analysts were looking for $0.45 and $1.55 billion respectively.

While the company’s profit guidance disappointed traders, sending shares down 6% early Thursday, Wall Street analysts were impressed by Square’s revenue, and are bullish about its long-term growth opportunity.

Nearly every analyst believes the stock will move higher over the long term. Here’s what they are saying:

Goldman Sachs

  • Price target: $108 
  • Rating: Buy

“Continued revenue acceleration plus healthy 2019 outlook should move the stock higher,” said James Schneider at Goldman Sachs.

“We believe the ongoing acceleration in revenue growth will continue to dominate the narrative on the stock, especially in light of uneven revenue performance across growth stocks in the broader technology sector. In addition, we believe management’s healthy preliminary outlook for 2019  should bolster investor confidence in the sustainability of Square’s growth story in the medium term.” 

RBC Capital Markets

  • Price target: $95
  • Rating: Outperform

“Square posted another solid quarter in which adjusted revenue again inflected up, driven by significant growth in subscription & services,” RBC analyst Daniel Perlin said.

But he noted that there are three main uncertainties for Square: macroeconomic concerns, competition, and execution risks.

“Since Square’s business model is intimately tied to micro and small businesses, a slowdown in consumer retail sales could impede the achievement of our price target. Additionally, we note that: (a) payments is a very competitive landscape; (b) payments is also highly regulated; and (c) Square is dependent on services from the networks and merchant acquirers that may become competitors.

“Finally, we note execution risk associated with: (a) the CEO’s dual leadership roles; (b) history of losses; and (c) the positive effects of software & data products revenue included in our model.” 


  • Price target: $88
  • Rating: Hold

“The guidance, particularly around EBITDA and the associated margins, suggests the company may need to invest faster and deeper to accomplish its goals,” Jefferies analyst John Hecht said.

“3Q18 exhibited upside on revenue while Square continues to invest in the business at a pace which impacts EBITDA and operating margins.” 

He continued: “Top-line trends, specifically strong gross payment volume and an increased contribution from S&S enabled the 2018 revenue guide increase but we note that slightly lower margins versus prior guide may mute the reaction to the quarter.”

See the rest of the story at Business Insider