After hitting a 2023 high of nearly $9.75 per share on June 14, SoFi Technologies (NASDAQ:SOFI) stock was hit by bearish analysis that had brought it down closer to $8.
The market cap on the online banking company was still $7.8 billion, five times more than the $1.57 billion of revenue it had last year, on which it lost $320 million, 40 cents per share.
In a market focused on breakthrough technology, the move of nearly 20% down may have seemed overdone. In a market focused on fundamentals, it may have seemed underdone.
What the Bears Know
Analyst Giuliano Bologna said SoFi’s accounting treatment of personal and business loans will create “a back-end margin overhang” if growth slows, and he expects it will. He put a price target of $5 on the stock, consistent with where SoFi was trading in January, and as recently as May.
All these analysts are treating SoFi as a bank. Most of its money comes today from its loan business. Treating SoFi as a bank is also bearish because, with just $10.1 billion in deposits, it’s a small bank.
But SoFi also offers the services of a brokerage. It resells both banking software and its platform to other institutions. Those operations were behind my own bullish thesis on the company. But until they turn a profit, it’s reasonable to expect bearishness, and volatility, to continue.
The Student Loan Overhang
What stirs the most controversy happens after the COVID-era student loan moratoriums end, as they will do over the next few months.
The debt ceiling deal assured that payments will flow in October, with interest accruing from Sept. 1. This should be bullish for SoFi, which got over half its income from student loans before the pandemic.
If the Supreme Court rules against the Administration’s authority to cut the loans, as SoFi wants, it could bring even more money to SoFi.
How much SoFi benefits from a resumption of student loan payments is the big uncertainty around the stock.
What SoFi wants to do is change the subject.
The company says artificial intelligence programs have a bias against women, and they’re marketing against it. Its new campaign uses AI-generated images to make the point that women also use money, and many use it well.
The idea is to position SoFi as a bank for successful women and gain market share that can be leveraged into other products.
The Bottom Line
As I’ve said many times, your view of SoFi depends on your time horizon.
On the one hand, Sofi is a small bank. Dependence on student loans is a bad look from a marketing perspective.
On the other hand, interest rates are falling and SoFi is a fintech. SoFi offers more products than any bank, to far more customers, and it’s national in scope. It’s Charles Schwab (NASDAQ:SCHW) for Generation Z, starting from a small base.
My advice is to keep an eye on SoFi. If it falls as hard as the bears want it to, buy it with both hands. SoFi at $10 may be a speculation. SoFi at $5 is a long-term bargain.
As of this writing, Dana Blankenhorn had a LONG position in SOFI and SCHW. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.