Pro Research: Wall Street's deep dive into PayPal's prospects

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Pro Research: Wall Street's deep dive into PayPal's prospects
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In a world where digital transactions continue to reshape the landscape of commerce, PayPal (NASDAQ: PYPL ) Holdings, Inc. ( NASDAQ :PYPL) stands out as a titan of the industry. The company, known for its robust technology platform enabling digital and mobile payments, has recently been the subject of multiple analyses by Wall Street firms, each dissecting the company's performance, strategy, and future outlook. This deep-dive analysis seeks to consolidate the various perspectives and present a comprehensive picture of PayPal's standing in the market.

Company Overview

PayPal's global reach and its pivotal role in facilitating online payments for consumers and merchants have been well-established. The company boasts over 400 million users and has maintained its position as a leading digital payments platform with strong brand recognition. Its two-sided network model offers a fertile ground for increasing average revenue per user (ARPU) through the introduction of new products and services.

Market Performance and Trends

The digital payments sector is witnessing a resilient growth in US eCommerce, which bodes well for PayPal's revenue prospects. Analysts have observed that the company is experiencing faster growth in unbranded volumes compared to branded volumes, which signals an expansion in market reach and diversification of revenue sources. However, this shift has also led to concerns regarding the dilution of take rates and transaction margins.

PayPal's stock has been a subject of debate, with some investors seeing its current valuation as an attractive entry point, while others remain cautious, expecting that a turnaround in fundamentals may necessitate more substantial investment and time, potentially leading to downward EPS revisions.

Management and Strategy

Under the new CEO, Alex Chriss, PayPal is undergoing a strategic shift. The focus is on running the company as a growth entity with potential for margin-accretive revenue growth and greater operational efficiency. Chriss aims to transform PayPal into a platform-centric business, moving away from operating in product silos. This includes consolidating and monetizing data assets, particularly around checkout processes, and fostering small and medium-sized business development.

The company is also prioritizing the global rollout of its SMB commerce platform (PPCP), leveraging significant data assets to reduce friction at checkout and drive higher conversion rates. Efficiency initiatives are targeting cost savings by eliminating duplicative expenses and automating manual processes. These strategies are expected to contribute to margin expansion and operational leverage.

Financial Metrics and Projections

Analysts have provided varying EPS estimates for PayPal, reflecting a general expectation of growth. For instance, Morgan Stanley's model projects an increase from $4.95 in 2023e to $7.65 in 2025e. Revenue growth estimates for Q3 '23 by Morgan Stanley were at 7.1%, slightly below the consensus of 7.9%. Moreover, core EPS estimates for future years have been raised, with BMO Capital Markets raising their 2023E estimate to $4.98 from $4.95.

Competitive Landscape

In the fiercely competitive payments industry, PayPal continues to hold its own. The company is gaining market share in e-commerce volumes with sustained user frequency by active accounts. It is also expected to experience margin expansion through ongoing cost discipline. The introduction of higher-margin services like Risk-as-a-Service and FX-as-a-Service, along with international expansion and a move to cater to SMBs, are part of the broader strategy to maintain a competitive edge.

Regulatory and External Factors

There is skepticism around using customer purchase data for promotional activities due to potential regulatory scrutiny and conflicts of interest. Moreover, the company's approach to expanding financing services is under question, with some analysts preferring partnerships over in-house development to mitigate risks.

Bear Case

Is PayPal's growth sustainable amid market shifts?

Some investors are concerned about PayPal's ability to sustain growth, especially as it faces a shift towards unbranded volumes that could dilute transaction margins. The need for substantial investments to improve fundamentals and adapt to market changes could lead to downward EPS revisions. Additionally, the recent change in CEO and strategic direction adds a layer of uncertainty regarding medium-term financial expectations.

Can PayPal overcome margin pressures?

Despite efforts to offset margin pressures, such as the scale of PPCP and cost-saving initiatives, there is a bearish sentiment around the immediate future. The adjustment phase under new management may not yield significant changes in the short term, and there is a need for greater clarity on enterprise pricing and the new management's plans.

Bull Case

Will new leadership propel PayPal forward?

The arrival of CEO Alex Chriss has been met with optimism. His focus on aligning resources to high-growth areas and a commitment to increased transparency could revitalize PayPal's growth trajectory and efficiency. The consolidation of data assets and a strategy to boost small business adoption of PayPal's payment solutions are seen as potential catalysts for improvement.

Is PayPal's valuation an opportunity for investors?

Some analysts view PayPal's current valuation as historically attractive, presenting an opportunity for investors. The company's efforts to accelerate the growth of Branded TPV, which contributes the highest margins, and the introduction of new, higher-margin services could lead to a rebound in the stock's performance.

SWOT Analysis


  • Strong brand recognition and global scale.
  • Diversified revenue streams with a growing unbranded volume.
  • Strategic focus on high-margin services and international expansion.


  • Dilution of transaction margins with the growth of unbranded volumes.
  • Need for substantial investment to improve fundamentals.
  • Regulatory uncertainties around data usage for promotional activities.


  • Expansion into SMB markets and international territories.
  • Potential for operational leverage through cost-saving initiatives.
  • Leveraging data assets to improve consumer and merchant experiences.


  • Competitive pressure in the digital payments industry.
  • Risks associated with foreign exchange fluctuations.
  • Execution risks related to new product launches and strategic shifts.

Analysts Targets

  • Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC: Overweight; $118.00 (November 02, 2023).
  • J.P. Morgan Securities LLC: Overweight; $80.00 (November 02, 2023).
  • RBC Capital Markets: Outperform; $70.00 (November 02, 2023).
  • BMO Capital Markets Corp.: Outperform; $90.00 (November 03, 2023).
  • Barclays (LON: BARC ) Capital Inc.: Overweight; $88.00 (October 12, 2023).
  • BTIG: Buy; $90.00 (September 19, 2023).

The timeframe for this analysis spans from September to November 2023.

InvestingPro Insights

As PayPal Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:PYPL) navigates through the evolving digital payments landscape, real-time data and expert insights from InvestingPro provide a sharper lens on the company's financial health and stock performance. With a market capitalization of $64.53 billion and a P/E ratio that stands at 17.77, PayPal demonstrates a substantial presence in the financial services sector. Notably, the company's adjusted P/E ratio has improved over the last twelve months as of Q3 2023, settling at 16.31, which indicates a more favorable valuation relative to its earnings.

InvestingPro Tips highlight that management's aggressive share buyback strategy could be a sign of confidence in the company's value. Additionally, PayPal's strong return on invested capital suggests efficient use of funds for generating profits. A tip of particular interest is that analysts expect the company to remain profitable this year, with net income predicted to grow. However, it is important to note that revenue growth has been tapering off recently, which may warrant investor attention.

The company's revenue for the last twelve months as of Q3 2023 reached $29.13 billion, with a growth of 7.67%, slightly outpacing the quarterly growth rate of 8.36% for Q1 2023. PayPal's gross profit margin for the same period stands at a robust 40.2%, reflecting its ability to retain a significant portion of sales revenue after accounting for the cost of goods sold.

InvestingPro subscribers can delve into a wealth of additional insights, with 29 more analysts having revised their earnings estimates downwards for the upcoming period, indicating potential headwinds or recalibrated expectations. The subscription is now on a special Cyber Monday sale, offering a discount of up to 60%, and users can apply the coupon code research23 to get an additional 10% off a 2-year InvestingPro+ subscription, enhancing their investment research capabilities.

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