Financial technology company Marqeta (MQ 2.95%) shocked investors during its second-quarter earnings call by announcing that chief executive officer and founder Jason Gardner was stepping down from his operations role.
Wall Street didn't take kindly to the news, sending the shares down more than 20%; they have yet to recover. A ship losing its captain is always big news, but it doesn't have to be a reason to sell the stock. Here is how Marqeta's bombshell announcement could affect long-term investors.
Founder-led companies excel
Some of the world's largest companies today started as small operations, sometimes out of a garage or a basement. It takes effort, talent, and luck to build a business and make it successful enough to hit the public markets.
The entrepreneurs who start these companies are enormous assets for the business, and the data backs that up. A 2016 study by consulting firm Bain & Co. concluded that stocks of founder-led companies tend to outperform those of non-founders.
It makes sense when you think about it; a successful entrepreneur has realized a vision that took their company far. Roku founder and CEO Anthony Wood invented television's digital video recorder (DVR). The Trade Desk founder and CEO Jeff Green developed one of the world's first online demand-side ad exchanges. Marqeta's Gardner was instrumental in developing modern card-issuing payments technology.
A founder leaving doesn't always doom a company -- far from it -- but it's almost always a significant loss. The uncertainty of Gardner departure explains the stock's fall, and Wall Street's reaction is at least understandable.
Why investors shouldn't panic
Don't assume that Gardner is retiring, sailing into the sunset to enjoy his millions. The CEO outlined particular reasons for stepping down; he highlighted his skills as an entrepreneur during the Q2 earnings call, emphasizing that someone else may be better suited to lead Marqeta now that it's hitting its next growth phase as an established public company.
He also noted that he is stepping down as CEO but will remain the company's executive chairman, saying: "As Executive Chairman, I plan to spend my time in the three areas I can contribute the most: our people, our products and our customers. I'm entirely committed to Marqeta and our overall success forever.
In other words, Gardner is handing the reins to someone who can guide the company's operations. Still, he will remain a significant presence in maintaining Marqeta's culture and product innovation.
The dip is a long-term buying opportunity
After reaching $11 per share, the stock's post-earnings plunge put it back squarely in the single digits at just under $8. The company's market cap is now just $4.4 billion, and almost $1.7 billion, or 37%, is cash on the balance sheet.
On top of that, the company generates free cash flow and has no debt while increasing revenue more than 50%.
Whoever comes in to lead Marqeta into the future is inheriting a business with stellar financials. The company's working with numerous innovative businesses in the payments landscape, and the stock's price-to-sales ratio (P/S) is near its lowest as a public company at 7.
Of course, Marqeta needs to continue executing. However, the stock has the ingredients of a long-term winner, and the latest dip offers investors yet another chance to buy at a discount.