Financial Performance

Square Shares Dip 6% on Weak Q1 Guidance

Slower sales growth also weighed on the stock but "new products and services can provide a second wind to growth as the year progresses."
Matthew HellerFebruary 28, 2019
Square Shares Dip 6% on Weak Q1 Guidance

Square Inc. delivered an earnings beat on Wednesday but its shares tumbled in after-hours trading on a lower-than-expected outlook.

The payments firm said it earned 14 cents per share in the fourth quarter as adjusted revenue rose 64% year over year to $464 million. Analysts had expected earnings of 13 cents per share on revenue of $454 million.

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Subscription- and services-based revenue was particularly strong, increasing 144% to $194 million. For the full year, Square reported $592 million in subscription- and services-based revenue, up 134% year over year.

CEO Jack Dorsey said more than half of Square’s adjusted revenue came from products launched in the last five years. A “network effect” of friends and families helped growth in downloads, he told analysts in an earnings call.

But investors appeared to focus on the company’s first-quarter outlook, which called for earnings per share between 6 cents and 8 cents versus Wall Street expectations of 11 cents.

In the extended trading session, Square’s stock dropped 6.7% to $74.00.

“Slower growth also weighed on Square’s stock price,” CNBC reported, noting that adjusted revenue grew 53% excluding acquisitions — down from 56% and below estimates of roughly 60% growth.

The stock had rallied 40% percent this year and more than 70% percent year over year. “While 4Q was not something to write home about, the [Square] story is likely far from over as new products and services can provide a second wind to growth as the year progresses,” Nomura Instinet analyst Dan Dolev said in a note to clients.

Dorsey said the company will continue to focus on strengthening its omni-channel offering. “That means that we add strength to in-person payments, to mobile payments, and also to online,” he told analysts. “We’re really excited about everything we’re doing in financial services.”

Square recently added to its growing suite of banking products by launching a debit card for businesses.

“Square Card has been another highlight over the past three months,” Dorsey said. “This is a way for us to continue to serve underserved and unbanked sellers.”