Don’t Get Lured into Activist Investor Narrative with PayPal Stock

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PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL) stock has had a spectacular month, but its second-quarter 2022 fiscal results had some negative points that some investors are likely ignoring, but shouldn’t.

Furthermore, it would be hasty to buy PYPL stock just because activist investor Elliott Investment Management took a position in the shares.

There’s a phenomenon in the financial media that might be called activist-investor mania. It’s a real headline-grabber when a firm like Elliott takes a large share position in a company. That’s because traders might speculate about how Elliott might force the company to make changes.

However, just because the financial media is hyped up about Elliott’s stake in PayPal, doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to get caught up in the mania. At the end of the day, you should conduct your own due diligence. And, a deeper dive into PayPal’s financials will reveal some worrisome facts.

Activist Investor Narrative Pumped PYPL Stock

As The Wall Street Journal and other media platforms reported on Elliott’s roughly $2 billion investment in PayPal, the payments processor’s shares suddenly gained 13% in value. Thus, it’s conceivable that any benefits to PayPal to be derived from Elliott’s influence were immediately priced in to PYPL stock.

It’s not exactly “buy the rumor, sell the news.” Rather, this share-price jump represented an extremely forward-looking, efficient and hope-filled market.

PayPal’s long-term investors had a rough 2022 so far (the stock still is down nearly 50% this year) and were desperate for some good news.

Was this necessarily good news, though? If PayPal is in such rough shape that the company’s in need of major, forced changes from an activist investor, that’s probably not a positive sign.

PayPal Isn’t a Profitable Business

Moreover, Bloomberg reported that Elliott plans to push for PayPal to ramp up its cost-cutting efforts. These efforts have included firing workers and closing down offices.

However, there’s no guarantee that a shrinking PayPal will be a better company. Yet, PYPL stock has likely already priced in a positive future impact from PayPal’s cost-reduction measures.

Besides, just because Elliott is buying PayPal shares, doesn’t mean that you have to buy them. You have to be your own advocate as an investor, and conduct careful due diligence.

For example, did you know that, during 2022’s second quarter, PayPal showed no sequential growth in active customer accounts?

Also, PayPal’s Q2 2022 international net revenue declined slightly on a year-over-year basis. In addition, PayPal’s 5% sequential revenue growth isn’t really much to brag about.

Finally, prospective investors should observe that PayPal swung from $1.184 billion net income in the year-earlier quarter, to a $341 million net loss in Q2 of 2022. In other words, this once-profitable company is now unprofitable.

What You Can Do Now

Shareholder activist reports are exciting to read. They’re major headline-grabbers that get plenty of attention.

The news of Elliott Investment Management’s stake in PayPal has already pushed the PYPL stock price up. Thus, the apparently good news about Elliott’s stake has likely already been priced in to PayPal shares.

In the final analysis, investors should check PayPal’s fiscal data and make their own decisions. In doing so, they can observe that PayPal swung from net income to a loss. Knowing this, prospective investors will probably want to avoid investing in PayPal now.

On the date of publication, neither Louis Navellier nor the InvestorPlace Research Staff member primarily responsible for this article held (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article.

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