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PayPal Earnings: What Investors Need to Know

By Trevor Jennewine, Jason Hall, and Jon Quast – Oct 15, 2021 at 6:00AM

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Digitization has been a strong tailwind for this innovative fintech company.

PayPal (PYPL 4.88%) is firing on all cylinders. Since the beginning of 2020, the company has launched an array of new products, including a "buy now, pay later" service, support for cryptocurrency, QR code payments, and a new mobile app that features personalized shopping tools and a high-yield savings account.

Not surprisingly, PayPal's share price has soared 145% over that time period, reflecting its growing dominance in the digital payments space. However, the company narrowly missed Wall Street's sales consensus last quarter, and the stock price has tumbled 13% from its high. Can PayPal deliver a beat this time around?

In this Backstage Pass video, which aired on Oct. 1, Motley Fool contributors Jon Quast and Jason Hall discuss what investors should look for when PayPal delivers its third-quarter earnings report on Nov. 1.

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Jon Quast: PayPal, a pioneer in digital payments. The stock is down from the last quarter. They had guided for $6.25 billion in revenue, and they delivered $6.24 billion in revenue. That is a miss of less than two-tenths of one percent, but that is why the stock was down last quarter. They beat on the bottom line by 32%. But that didn't matter. When people feel like being negative, they're going to be negative about it. Let's talk this quarter. What did they guide for? Where did we go? Still waiting. Here we go. We got it now?

Jason Hall: There it is. We're good.

Jon Quast: Management is guiding for third quarter revenue of $6.2 billion at the midpoint. That would be 13.5% year-over-year top-line growth. They are also guiding for earnings-per-share of $0.68, that would be down 21% year-over-year. However, it's not an apples-to-apples right now; they said their guidance on the bottom-line doesn't include strategic investments, and last year's results do include strategic investments. These companies invest in different things and they have to account for the difference in the price going up or down in their bottom-line results. If their investments have gone up, this could look a lot different.

Jason Hall: To be clear, what Jon's talking about there, if it's a market-to-market accounting thing, in other words, it's an equity stake or a minority stake in another business and the value of that business goes up or down, that affects its earnings-per-share even if it doesn't realize a gain or a loss because it continues to hold it. It can make that GAAP earnings-per-share number a little bit complicated. Go ahead, Jon.

Jon Quast: The reason I bring this out is because my question is, when I see the top line growing and the bottom line going down, are they losing operating leverage? That's a bad thing. But really this isn't an apples to an apples comparison, so let's withhold judgment until the quarterly results come in. What to watch, total net new active accounts. Right now, there are 403 million accounts on PayPal. That was up 16% year-over-year in the most recent quarter. They are trying to add 50 million new accounts this year. That's about 30-ish million for the rest of the year. We need to keep adding new accounts at a rapid rate.

Total payment volume. This is the amount of money flowing through the PayPal pipes; $311 billion in total payment volume last quarter, up 40% year-over-year, a lot of volume growth, and this is going to be very important in the second.

I'm also looking at new products. One new product that PayPal has just now rolling out is "buy now, pay later." You've probably heard about this. It's a big buzzword right now on Wall Street. Square went the buy approach. They bought out another company to build their buy now, pay later. PayPal is going to build approach, and they're providing this to their merchants at zero cost.

There are 32 million merchant accounts on PayPal, and this is very important. PayPal is being very strategic in serving this group of customers. This is why they want to grow their consumer accounts and they want to grow their payment volume, because quietly, beneath the surface, they're taking notes on consumer trends and they are providing that data to their merchants. That's how they're providing value to their merchants and tracking merchants to the platform. That's why all these things, that's why I said hang onto this. You want to see the volume going up. You want to see the net new accounts going up. You also want to see these new products serving their purposes because in reality, their mining data to provide to merchants. You also want to see the new merchants' accounts ticking up as well.

Trevor Jennewine owns shares of PayPal Holdings and Square. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends PayPal Holdings and Square. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long January 2022 $75 calls on PayPal Holdings. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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