Shares of Affirm Holdings Inc. jumped more than 9% in Friday’s session after an analyst applauded the company’s positioning despite recent pressure on the name and broader Buy It Now category and subsequent payment.
As Affirm faces new competition in the BNPL industry from Apple Inc. AAPL,
who announced plans to allow Apple Pay users to split purchases into interest-free installments during a keynote presentation earlier this month, DA Davidson’s Chris Brendler wrote that he was “increasingly convinced Affirm AFRM,
is the long-term winner in this space.
Shares of Affirm have fallen 28% in the past month as the S&P 500 SPX,
fell about 8%. Brendler said he was “not surprised by the recent underperformance, as the market increasingly seems to be pricing in a recession as well as the growing potential for further stress in financial markets”, and there is a risk related to Apple’s entry into the world of BNPL.
But Brendler also thinks macroeconomic pressure can “reduce competition” in the market, while Affirm has underwriting and financing advantages that he says investors don’t give it enough credit for.
“While it is difficult to predict the direction the economy will take, we strongly believe that AFRM’s remarkable growth trajectory will continue,” he added.
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Brendler pointed out that BNPL competitor Klarna, based in Sweden, plans to raise funds at a significantly lower valuation than last year, according to the Wall Street Journal. (A Klarna spokesperson told MarketWatch that the story “is pure speculation and we do not comment on fundraising or valuation speculation.”)
“Klarna may have missed the window for [go] audience and its growth may slow as a result,” Brendler wrote.
As for Apple, Brendler offered that the consumer electronics giant’s interest in BNPL is a “big endorsement” for the type of payment. Apple’s entry could help boost BNPL’s growth, he said, although he noted that the two companies will offer different types of installment products: Apple plans to allow interest-free short-term loans, while Affirm “specializes in consumer-funded, longer-term installment loans.” Confirmed loans may bear interest.
Read: Apple’s Buy It Now, Pay Later launch is ‘obvious risk’ but likely ‘modest’ for incumbents, analyst says
“With nearly all competition focused on the short term, AFRM dominates the consumer-funded space and its Split Pay product is currently only offered through Shopify, so it will not directly compete with Apple Pay, du least in the beginning,” he wrote. “Although competition will likely continue to grow,” including from PayPal Holdings Inc. PYPL,
“The sudden change in risk appetite and the continuing lack of regulatory clarity will likely slow the influx of new entrants.”
Read: PayPal expands BNPL offerings with monthly payment option
Additionally, given that Apple plans to handle its own collections and subscriptions, Brendler believes the company will “act cautiously” and doubts that Apple will conduct “rapid product expansion beyond BNPL in the near term.”