Even though SoFi Technologies (NASDAQ: SOFI) earned a banking charter last year, the cards were stacked so heavily against the fintech specialist that a share sell-off was practically inevitable. Between rising inflation and interest rates, along with the persistent drumbeat of recession warnings, the gravitational pull was too much for SoFi Technologies stock to handle in 2022.
SoFi stock’s drop from $11 to less than $5 last year may have been overdone, though. Now, as a seemingly more accommodative Federal Reserve and notable revenue growth spur optimism (or at least, less pessimism), SoFi Technologies could be on a path to recovery in 2023. With that in mind, even cautious investors can put $100 on the line as long as they acknowledge the zero-or-hero potential for SoFi stock.
Banking on a turnaround
Even though SoFi Technologies’ past quarterly earnings per share results are almost entirely filled with meets and beats, the company’s first announcement of 2023 felt like a make-or-break event after such a rough-and-tumble year. As it turns out, SoFi passed with flying colors this time around, delivering expectation-beating numbers on all fronts in 2022’s fourth quarter:
Net revenue was up 60% year over year to $456.7 million, exceeding the analyst consensus estimate of $423 million.
The company posted adjusted EBITDA of $70.1 million, up over 1,400% compared to the prior-year quarter’s $4.6 million and well ahead of Wall Street’s forecast of $43 million.
The fintech had a net loss of $40 million, or $0.05 per share, marking a vast improvement over the year-ago period’s loss of $111 million, or $0.15 per share, while also beating the average analyst estimate of a $0.09-per-share net loss.
Mizuho analyst Dan Dolev commented, “The big beat on revenue and adjusted EBITDA are major positives of the 4Q results,” and I couldn’t agree more. However, Dolev also pointed to SoFi’s “promise to deliver positive GAAP net income in 4Q 2023.” Presumably, the analyst was referring to CEO Anthony Noto’s optimism that his company is positioned “very well in 2023” to “reach GAAP net income profitability in the fourth quarter.”
After quarter after unprofitable quarter, it’s exciting to consider the possibility of SoFi operating in the black. Now a legitimate bank (charter and all), SoFi Technologies can actually compete with traditional financial institutions and even threaten them in the coming months.
Bet $100 on a less aggressive Fed
Taking a completely different angle on a $100 SoFi Technologies stock investment, one might consider how SoFi could benefit from a more accommodative Federal Reserve. After all, technology and financial stocks were among the hardest-hit assets in 2022, and SoFi Technologies falls into both of those categories.
Thus, even a whiff of a future Fed pause in interest rate hikes should bring more investors into the fold with SoFi stock. Indeed, the market got that whiff from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s comments to the press following the latest Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Powell really wasn’t in a position to deny that inflation has improved — especially after the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) index, declined from 7% in June to 5% in December last year.
It’s not hard to see why SoFi Technologies stock jumped from $7 to nearly $8 on the day of Powell’s post-meeting remarks to the press. The Fed chairman mentioned the magic word — disinflation — at least a dozen times. In a nod to the obvious, Powell acknowledged that “the disinflationary process has started,” while admitting a possible “path to getting inflation back down to 2% without a really significant economic decline or a significant increase in unemployment.”
There was no pause and certainly not a pivot, but it’s all about the baby steps in 2023. SoFi Technologies stock lost a lot of ground when the Fed went full-on hawkish, and it’s coiled to spring back fast and furiously if and when the central bank finally stops tightening the screws. There’s no guarantee that any of this will actually occur, so investors shouldn’t overallocate to SoFi stock. That said, a $100 stake in SoFi Technologies has the potential to gain value over time if the pieces of the puzzle fall into place.
Leveraging SoFi’s standing as a “legit,” chartered bank and making good on the promise of fourth-quarter positive GAAP net income would go a long way toward establishing this relatively small disruptor as a fintech firm to reckon with.
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David Moadel has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.