There was no specific company news to send PayPal stock higher last month. Instead, it seems that investors were still processing the solid earnings report in late January, which revealed a business continuing to click on all cylinders.
The fourth-quarter earnings release on Jan. 30 showed another typical quarter for PayPal. Revenue increased 21% year over year on a normalized basis after adjusting for PayPal's sale of its U.S. consumer credit receivables portfolio to Synchrony Financial. That translated to growth in non-GAAP earnings per share of 26% year over year for the quarter.
But the most impressive aspect of PayPal's performance is what is happening beneath the headline numbers. Active accounts reached 267 million, accelerating to a 17% increase over the year-ago quarter. Total payment volume growth was 25%, while growth in transactions per customer account -- an important measure of engagement -- remained stable at 9%.
The stock marched higher despite being downgraded by several analysts who apparently were not content with a business-as-usual quarter. But it's clear investors were pleased to see a company of PayPal's size, with $578 billion in annual payment volume, continue posting double-digit growth rates across nearly every measure of performance.
Investors will be watching for continued strength in engagement and customer account growth in 2019, especially given the stock now trades for a high forward P/E multiple of 27.8 times next year's earnings estimates.