Square tops sales estimates on gain from broader services

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Square Inc. reported sales that topped analysts’ estimates for a ninth consecutive quarter, bolstered by a steady increase in larger merchants using the company to process payments and manage their businesses.

Adjusted revenue rose 47 percent to $282.7 million in the fourth quarter, the San Francisco-based company said Tuesday in a statement. Analysts projected $266.6 million. Square processed $17.9 billion in gross payment volume, an increase of 31 percent from a year before.

In more than two years as a public company, Square has moved beyond its iconic payment dongle for reading credit cards to become a one-stop business manager for small and mid-sized retailers, providing loans, accounting, inventory tracking and e-commerce operations among its services.
The company’s shares have more than doubled in the past year, as investors have become more positive about its earnings potential in targeting bigger businesses. Square also has added higher-margin offerings, such as ways to monitor employee hours and provide instant deposits, that have contributed an increasing share of revenue and helped offset a slowdown in payments transaction growth.

“They’ve validated the economic model and market,” said Josh Beck, an analyst at Keybanc Capital Markets Inc. “This year, people are starting to pay more attention to the platform and all of these other services they can monetize. They’re growing more confident that those strategies will work.”

Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization were $41.2 million, compared with analysts’ average estimate of $38.3 million. Revenue from subscription and services almost doubled to $79 million from a year earlier.

The company, however, gave a profit forecast for the current quarter that fell short of analysts’ estimates. Earnings, excluding some items, are expected to be as high as 5 cents per share, Square said. Analysts projected 8 cents. Adjusted revenue in the period will be as as much as $295 million, compared with estimates of $273.1 million.

Shares gained about 1 percent in extended trading after closing at $45.91.

Bloomberg News
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