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If Square Stock Starts to Fall It Might Be Hard to Stop

Bret Kenwell

The technical outlook for Square (NYSE:SQ) isn’t all that rosy, despite how well the company has done over the past few years. Indeed, Square stock has been a beast on the long side and has made many loyal investors a hefty sum of cash. But even with the stock market in rally mode for much of 2019, Square stock has been absent.

Square Stock sq stock

Source: Chris Harrison via Flickr (Modified)

What’s going on?

Shares have been rolling over as it appears there’s been a bit of a “buyer’s strike” regarding Square. While Square stock had a violent rally off its December lows, shares are actually flat since Jan. 15. Compare that to its peers and Square stock investors may be getting frustrated.

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PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL) is up 22.5% in the same timeframe, while the PowerShares QQQ ETF (NASDAQ:QQQ) is up 13%. Visa (NYSE:V) and MasterCard (NYSE:MA) are up 18% and 28%, respectively. The year-to-date numbers are even worse.

Stock YTD Return SQ 17% QQQ 19.3% V 24% MA 33.6% PYPL 33.8%

I know it’s hard to complain about a 17% gain for the year, but considering the fourth quarter that we endured, a snap-back rally like that is to be expected. The fact that it’s lagging the QQQs and has generated just 50% of the return from its most compared to competitor (PYPL), and SQ stock is frustrating.

Will that underperformance continue?

Trading SQ Stock

chart of SQ stock


Click to Enlarge

Above is the weekly chart for Square stock. You can clearly see that Square was enjoying a nice, solid uptrend (blue line) for the better part of a year. However, that uptrend came to an end in Q4 2018, when the markets took a painful fall. Square, which was already elevated from its uptrend by quite a bit, was no exception to this selloff.

In October, SQ stock hit a 52-week high of $101.15. By mid-December, shares had fallen more than 50% at its lows when it hit $49.82.

On the bounce, shares ran to that $77.50 to $80 area, which effectively capped SQ stock from January through April. At $81.56 is the 61.8% retracement for the 52-week range, which more or less acted as resistance. Unfortunately, the 38.2% retracement at $69.43 did not support SQ stock on the downside, nor did the 50-week moving average.

I worry about Square in the short- to intermediate term if it can’t get over some of these technical levels. Specifically, I want to see Square over the 10-week moving average and above the 38.2% retracement. Over downtrend resistance (purple line) would eventually be nice too.

If it can’t do that though, it’s prone to more declines. Those declines are exacerbated in the event that U.S. stocks take a bigger hit. I have my sights on three potential downside levels: $60 is a notable level of both resistance and support and only gave way amid a flood of selling in December. At $55 is the 100-week moving average, which should provide a bounce should SQ stock test it.

Finally, a retest of the lows near $50 should attract buyers. I don’t expect this level without a larger flush in the broader market.

Bottom Line on Square Stock

Square has been a multi-year stud, but that action has not translated to 2019. The company still has a terrific growth profile, with analysts modeling revenue and earnings to grow 43.5% and 60% this year, respectively; 2020’s forecast is solid too, at 35% and 49% growth, respectively.

While management provided a solid full-year outlook on May 1, second-quarter guidance came up a bit short. At 88 times this year’s earnings (after the earnings pullback), SQ stock doesn’t have much room for error. Disappointing on guidance, however marginal, can sap momentum in a hurry.

Let’s see where Square stock can firm up and whether it can regain momentum. Over the 10-week will be the first sign of turning it around.

Bret Kenwell is the manager and author of Future Blue Chips and is on Twitter @BretKenwell. As of this writing, Bret Kenwell is long V.

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