Shopify shares soar with payment and point-of-sale financing growth

Image via Shopify

Shopify Inc. reported fourth-quarter revenue that topped analysts’ estimates and gave an optimistic forecast for this year, boosted by holiday shopping and add-on services such as payment and marketing tools. The shares surged the most in almost four years.

Sales grew by 47% to $505.2 million in the quarter, Ottawa-based Shopify said in a statement Wednesday. Analysts expected $481.6 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. For 2020, Shopify said it sees revenue of $2.13 billion to $2.16 billion, compared with analysts’ projection for $2.12 billion.

The key metric of gross merchandise volume, which represents the value of all goods sold on the platform, increased 47% from a year earlier. Over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday holiday weekend, merchants on Shopify’s platform, which now number more than 1 million, made more than $2.9 billion in sales, up from $1.8 billion a year earlier, according to the company.

The New York-listed shares jumped as much as 15.5% at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, to a new record of $569.10.

The stock has risen more than 70% from November, boosted by the pace of revenue growth and amid optimism for a fulfillment center plan announced last year. Shopify said in June that it will invest $1 billion in facilities over five years to help merchants on its platform deliver products quickly and easily, following a path blazed by Amazon.com Inc. A few months later, Shopify made its biggest acquisition yet, paying $450 million for 6 River Systems, a warehouse robotics company.

Shopify helps businesses open their own digital stores across multiple channels, including social media, through its platform. The company also provides point-of-sale services in brick-and-mortar stores, competing with Square Inc.

The company also swung to a profit in the fourth quarter, reporting $771 million, compared with a loss of $1.5 billion a year earlier. Profit excluding some costs was 43 cents a share in the quarter, beating analysts’ projection for 24 cents.

“Shopify’s 4Q 2019 performance was impressive in our view,” said Anthony Chukumba, an analyst at Loop Capital Markets, in a note following the results. “We were particularly encouraged by the gross merchandise volume (GMV) growth, which further demonstrates how Shopify is ‘democratizing commerce’ and providing value to its merchants.”

Besides fulfillment centers, the company has rolled out tools such as chat and email, as well as video and 3D modeling for products to help merchants improve marketing and build direct relationships with buyers. Such investments combined with the company’s push to capture international markets could prevent any significant margin expansion in 2020, said Anurag Rana, a senior analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence, in a Feb. 5 note.

Chief Financial Officer Amy Shapero acknowledged on an earnings call that 2020 is “clearly a year of heavy investment” for Shopify, but the company expects to see strong growth from the resulting increase in clients and gross merchandise volume, she added.

Shopify said it expects an operating loss in the range of $324 million to $344 million in 2020.

While it mainly caters to small and medium businesses, Shopify also counts high-profile brands such as Gatorade, Aerosoles, Victoria Beckham Beauty, Heineken, and SpaceX. Shopify Plus, a segment geared toward companies with high sales volumes, has been key to attracting such larger brands. Shopify Plus contributed 27% of the company’s overall monthly recurring revenue, compared with 25.4% in the same quarter last year.

— Nikitha Sattiraju (Bloomberg)