Square forecasts first-quarter profit below estimates, shares fall


By Anna Irrera and Bharath ManjeshR

Feb 27 () - Payments company Square Inc on Wednesday forecast current-quarter profit well below Wall Street estimates, as it cited investments it is making in its business, sending its shares down 6 percent in after-hours trading.

The San Francisco-based company, whose chief executive, Jack Dorsey, is also CEO of Twitter Inc

Square, which is best known for its signature white credit-card readers that are plugged into smartphones, has been aggressively expanding into a wider range of financial services for small businesses and consumers, from lending to peer-to-peer payments.

In January it launched a free debit card for small businesses aimed at helping them better manage cash flow. The MasterCard debit card allows companies to spend funds from sales processed via Square's payments systems as soon as the sale has been made.

"This is a way for us to continue to serve underserved and unbanked sellers so that they can start a business without even going to a bank," Dorsey said on the call.

Square also offers a debit card to individuals connected to Cash App, its mobile payments service that has grown in popularity over the past year. The company said Cash App had more than 15 million monthly active customers in December, more than double year over year.

Ahuja, who joined Square in January, said Cash App was making a meaningful contribution to revenues through fees on its instant deposit service and interchange on the debit card, as well as spreads on cryptocurrency buying and selling.

For the fourth quarter, total operating expenses jumped 51.5 percent to $383.2 million as the company spent more on product development, sales and marketing.

The company said widened to $28.2 million, or 7 cents per share, in the quarter ended Dec. 31, from $15.7 million, or 4 cents per share, a year earlier (graphic).

On an adjusted basis, the company earned 14 cents per share, brushing past estimates of 13 cents, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Total revenue surged 51 percent to $932.5 million.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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