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PayPal Stock Plunges 80%, Heres Why You Shouldnt Panic

  • user  Investment.Sensei
    Investment.Sensei  Investment.Sensei

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PayPal, once a pioneer in online payments, has seen its stock plummet by 80% from its peak in 2021.
The company faces intense competition from Apple Pay and Google Pay, as well as a slowdown in online shopping post-pandemic.
Under new CEO Alex Chris, PayPal is implementing various initiatives to drive innovation and revive growth.

The once-mighty PayPal, founded by tech visionary Elon Musk, has seen its fortunes take a tumble in recent years. The company's stock, which once commanded a staggering valuation of over $330 billion, has been on a downward spiral, plunging by a staggering 80% from its peak in 2021. This dramatic fall from grace has left investors wondering whether PayPal can recapture its former glory or if its best days are behind it.


At the heart of PayPal's struggles lies a perfect storm of challenges. The company, which once dominated the online payments landscape, has faced intense competition from tech giants Apple and Google, whose respective payment services, Apple Pay and Google Pay, have gained significant traction. Additionally, the slowdown in online shopping following the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated PayPal's woes, as its primary revenue stream from e-commerce transactions has dried up.


In response to these headwinds, PayPal has been forced to pivot its focus towards less profitable channels, such as clearing services for local businesses. This shift has put pressure on the company's profitability, which fell to a mere 45.8% in the fourth quarter of 2023, a far cry from the 55.9% it enjoyed in the corresponding quarter of the previous year.


However, all is not lost for the embattled payments giant. Under the leadership of its new CEO, Alex Chris, PayPal has embarked on an ambitious turnaround strategy, implementing a series of initiatives aimed at driving innovation and reigniting growth.


Among these initiatives is the introduction of facial recognition and fingerprint authentication, allowing customers to connect to the PayPal app seamlessly. Additionally, the company plans to leverage artificial intelligence to create smart receipts, enabling customers to track purchases and receive personalized product recommendations for future purchases. PayPal is also exploring one-click payment options without the need for registration, further streamlining the user experience.


Moreover, PayPal is set to launch CashPass in March, offering customers cash back options on purchases, and upgrading the Venmo profiles to allow users to register, rate, and receive personalized deals from profile owners. These moves underscore the company's commitment to innovation and its determination to stay ahead of the curve in the ever-evolving payments landscape.


While these changes have yet to convince investors – the stock fell 5% on the day PayPal announced them – they do signal the company's willingness to adapt and embrace new strategies to recapture its former glory.


Analysts have been quick to point out that PayPal is no longer traded as a high-growth fintech company, but rather at valuations more akin to regional banks. With a market capitalization of $67 billion, PayPal's valuation is comparable to that of U.S. Bancorp (USB), a regional banking giant. In the fourth quarter of 2023, PayPal surpassed analysts' expectations for both top and bottom-line performance, but its forecast fell short, disappointing investors and reflecting the company's newfound maturity and slower growth trajectory.


Furthermore, PayPal's operating profitability dropped to 21.4% in the fourth quarter, down from 22.7% in the previous quarter and below the company's own forecast. This decline was attributed to higher provisions for credit losses, suggesting that PayPal is bracing for a potential increase in non-performing loans.


Despite these challenges, some analysts see value in PayPal's current stock price. The company trades at a forward earnings multiple of 12, a far cry from the dizzying multiple of 57 it commanded during its peak in 2021. While PayPal may no longer be the high-growth juggernaut it once was, its more modest valuation could present an attractive entry point for investors willing to bet on the company's turnaround efforts.


Aswat Damudran, a professor at the New York Business School, summed up the situation aptly: "It's a less attractive company in terms of growth potential, but it's a more attractive investment in terms of value."


For the first quarter of 2024, analysts expect PayPal to report earnings per share of $1.22 on revenues of $7.5 billion. If the company can exceed these expectations, it could go a long way in restoring investor confidence and propelling the stock higher.




PayPal's road to reclaiming its former glory is fraught with challenges, but not insurmountable. The company's commitment to innovation, coupled with its new strategic initiatives and potential value at current stock prices, could pave the way for a resurgence. However, much will depend on PayPal's ability to execute its turnaround strategy flawlessly and deliver on its promises to shareholders. Only time will tell if the once-mighty payments giant can rise from the ashes and recapture the heights it once enjoyed.


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