Stocks, especially technology ones, have had a turbulent 2022 thus far. The Nasdaq Composite, down 26% year to date, has gotten off to its worst start to a year in the index's history. It's not very difficult to understand why -- inflation recently surged to a 40-year high, the Federal Reserve is sharply raising interest rates in response, and a wide array of adverse impacts from the Russian-Ukrainian War have shattered investor sentiment around the globe. Volatile times bring terrific investment opportunities for long-term investors, however.
As short-term noise continues to tower above the fundamentals of so many great businesses, prudent investors should aim to exploit the ongoing tech correction. Financial technology (fintech) stocks, which belong to tech companies that strive to disrupt the traditional financial services industry, are in the same boat as the rest. But as the war on cash continues to heat up, a lot of these companies appear well positioned to bounce back in the long run.
Here's one leading fintech stock that investors shouldn't hesitate to pounce on right now.
PayPal is a world leader in the fintech arena
Mobile payments giant PayPal Holdings (PYPL 0.39%) has plunged more than 60% year to date. After posting an unimpressive earnings report to cap off 2021, the fintech leader pulled through by delivering an in-line first-quarter performance to kick off 2022. Total sales climbed 7.5% year over year to $6.5 billion, and adjusted earnings per share retreated 27.9% to end at $0.88. The company's adjusted non-GAAP (generally accepted accounting priciples) operating margin also declined 700 basis points to 20.7%.
The weaker-than-expected growth for PayPal can be attributed to an assortment of challenges. Not only is the company dealing with strong comparable metrics from a year ago and less-than-ideal macro conditions, but it's also experiencing top-line pressure from eBay's (EBAY -1.62%) transition to its own payments platform. Management expects to stop adjusting for eBay by the end of this year, which should be interpreted as positive news by investors.
For the full fiscal year 2022, Wall Street analysts project the company's total sales to increase 11.5% year over year to $28.3 billion, and its adjusted earnings per share to contract 15.9% to $3.87. Next year, which is when comparable metrics will normalize and eBay-related challenges should ease, analysts expect its revenue and earnings per share to expand 16.2% and 24%, respectively.
A long-term mindset is key to investing in PayPal; the company's 429 million active accounts and total payment volume north of $1 trillion in 2021 make it the most-accepted digital wallet across North America and Europe. Likewise, it continues to diversify its business with new segments like Venmo, a peer-to-peer payments platform, and Pay in 4, a service that allows consumers to pay for items in four equal installments over a specified period of time.
The company is evolving into a cash-generating machine, producing $4.9 billion in free cash flow (FCF) in the past 12 months. Today, the stock is trading at about 24.2 times earnings, representing a steep discount to its five-year mean of 57.2. PayPal's historically low valuation, combined with the paradigm shift toward a cashless economy, grants investors a healthy margin of safety at the moment.
PayPal will rebound in the long run
Unlike many fintech companies today, PayPal is a highly profitable business that has been generating free cash flow at a rapid clip. Short-term headwinds have the mobile payments giant trading at record lows, suggesting that now is an optimal buying moment for shrewd investors. The war on cash is in full motion, and PayPal sits at the epicenter of the industry.
Between its first-class core business and newly emerging segments, the company appears well equipped to cash in on this secular trend. In my opinion, patient investors who buy this stock today could be greatly rewarded down the road.