Another Wall Street pro is sprinting to catch up to Square's (NYSE:SQ) sizzling stock. Paul Condra at Credit Suisse is upgrading shares of the mobile payments specialist, lifting his rating from neutral to outperform. He sees Square's business gaining in popularity with both merchants and consumers, as the platform is starting to appeal to larger merchants while migration trends to Square's Cash App continue to be rosy.
Condra is dramatically jacking up his price target, raising his goal from $44 to $81. Jacking up a price target by 84% is a pretty big move, but the new goalpost is just 19% higher than Wednesday's close. When you're a hot investment -- and Square stock has soared 422% since the start of last year -- analysts tend to either try to keep up with the runaway treadmill or just give up and join the bearish camp based on valuation. Condra is trying to stay one step ahead of the treadmill gang by upgrading one of the market's hottest tech stocks.
Timing is everything
One of the more encouraging data points in Condra's upgrade is when it took place. Square reports fresh financial results in two weeks, putting a little more at stake with the move. An analyst is risking a lot by upgrading or downgrading a stock just days ahead of a quarterly report, so these rating changes carry on a fair deal of weight.
The upgrade offers fresh hope for the bulls because some of the more recent Wall Street notes were cautious if not outright bearish. Darrin Peller at Wolfe Research initiated coverage of Square earlier this week with a neutral peer perform rating earlier. His $73 price target offers marginal upside from current levels.
The news wasn't any better last week when analysts at Jefferies and Oppenheimer assumed coverage of the payments and cryptocurrency play. They dusted off their refreshed research with neutral ratings, in effect a pair of downgrades from their earlier bullish market calls on Square when the stock was trading considerably lower.
Condra's move refreshingly reverses the cautious Wall Street trend, but his $81 price target isn't the new high-water mark. Dan Dolev at Nomura Instinet boosted his goal to $82 back in June, a move that lifted the shares to an all-time high last month.
Bulls and bears alike will now be turning to Square's upcoming second-quarter report. Analysts see revenue surging 53% -- stretching its streak of accelerating top-line growth to six quarters -- with earnings per share growing even faster. Wall Street pros are placing their bets, and the rising stock price tells you which side investors are siding with heading into this critical financial update.