Payments and financial technology company Square (NYSE:SQ) just posted another expectation-beating quarter, and sees plenty of opportunities to keep exceeding.
In its latest report, the company delivered adjusted revenue -- which excludes transaction and bitcoin costs -- of $464 million, up 64% year over year. That easily surpassed analysts' consensus estimate of $453 million and management's guidance range, which topped out at $451 million. Excluding the impact from the acquisitions of Weebly and Zesty in the second quarter of 2018, adjusted revenue increased 53% year over year. Adjusted earnings per share of $0.14 edged out expectations of $0.13, and was also just ahead of management's guidance for $0.12 to $0.13 per share.
Behind these impressive financial results is an expanding stable of products and services that will drive the next wave of growth.
It's the ecosystem
Many investors still think of Square in terms of its flagship Square credit card reader that attaches to mobile devices -- the one that started it all. Over time, however, the company product line has evolved into an entire ecosystem designed to empower business owners from novices to veterans, whatever the size of their operation.
On the conference call to discuss the results, CEO Jack Dorsey called the ecosystem the company's "core differentiator." Merchants or customers may come to Square for payments services or a mobile cash register, but they stay for the host of other products and services they find there. This includes small business loans, payroll services, invoices, and an online booking system -- among others. Instant Deposit, for example, allows both merchants and Cash App users to instantly deposit money into their bank accounts.
But these peripheral offerings aren't just for show. Products and services launched in the past five years now account for 37% of total net revenue and 51% of the company's adjusted revenue -- up 15 percentage points compared to the prior-year quarter.
The Square Card is an area of current focus for the company. This business debit card is being offered in partnership with Mastercard (NYSE:MA). One of the revelations from beta-testing the Square Card was that 40% of the merchants that signed up for it hadn't used a business debit card before -- illustrating the need for this product.
This allows Square to serve "underserved and unbanked sellers," according to Dorsey. Previously, merchants were required to link a Square business to a bank account in order to get paid. Now, they can start a business without even going to a bank, as Square provides them with an account to store their funds and a debit card to access the money.
Driving the next wave of growth
Square isn't stopping there. After successfully building an ecosystem for entrepreneurs, the company sees a similar opportunity serving individuals. Dorsey announced that the Cash App had grown to 15 million monthly active users, more than doubling year over year, and said the company was also "building an ecosystem focused on financial services for individuals."
The Cash App was No. 17 of the top 20 free apps in Apple's App Store for 2018, with its growth driven, in part, by the network effect: Once someone uses it to transfer funds to other people, they encourage friends and family to download the app as well, which expands into an ever-widening network of users.
The company continues to invest in the development of new products, for both merchants and individuals. But it's also getting the maximum benefit from research it's already done. Each of the solutions the company develops results in technology that can be recycled. Dorsey pointed out that Instant Deposit and the Square Card were both developed using technology that was initially developed for the Cash App.
Among the themes that management touched on repeatedly during the earnings call were the size of the opportunity, and its intention to continue to invest to take advantage of this growing market. Investors should take a long view of Square, as the company is still in the early stages of what could be a decades-long growth trajectory.