This year has been good to Square Inc. over the first week of trading. While the stock is still trading well off from its all time high of $99.01 reached in September, its seen a significant rally since January 3 and could be set to soar. In all, Square’s share price has gained around 27 percent, jumping from lows of $52 to its current share price of $65.93.
A key catalyst in the stock’s recovery was the appointment of a new chief financial officer. Previously, CFO Sarah Friar was seen as a driver of both growth and stability. Friar was a longtime Goldman Sachs analyst and left Square for the CEO position at social media startup, Nextdoor. Square’s share price plummeted on the news in early October and has seen little recover since.
“Her leadership in many ways has been more instrumental to Square’s emergence as a true payments disrupter and impressive growth story than CEO, Jack Dorsey’s,” said Suntrust analyst Andrew Jeffrey on the news of her departure.
On January 3, the company announced the appointment of Amrita Ahuja as the replacement CFO after a quarter long search. Ahuja has been with Activision Blizzard for eight years, and has most recently served as the CFO of the company’s Blizzard Entertainment unit.
“In Amrita, we have found an amazing, multidimensional business leader,” said Square founder Jack Dorsey in a statement last Thursday. “Amrita brings the ability to consider and balance opportunities across our entire business, and she will help strengthen our discipline as we invest, build, and scale.”
In addition to Activision Blizzard, Ahuja has worked with Fox Networks Group, the Walt Disney Company, and Morgan Stanley. The 39 year old holds an M.B.A. from Harvard University.
“I’m incredibly inspired by Square’s purpose as it has personal resonance for me,” said Amrita in a statement. “My parents were the type of entrepreneurial business owners for whom Square was created. I believe Square is building the most innovative commerce ecosystem for sellers and consumers, and I am excited to help the company execute against this massive opportunity.”
Even amid a market downturn that has crippled tech stocks, Square is powering through. The company started off with the purpose of providing a solution for small businesses to accept credit card payments, and has bubbled from that mission into other revenue channels as well. Square now has a popular peer-to-peer lending platform rivaling PayPal’s, and has developed its simple payment solution into a full ecosystem for small businesses.
Most recently, the company announced a further advancement of this ecosystem in the form of in-app payment processing.
“With the introduction of in-app mobile payments to the Square platform, developers now have a complete, omnichannel payments solution for all their payment needs,” said Carl Perry, Developer Lead at Square in a press release. “From software to hardware to services, Square offers a complete payments experience all in one cohesive open platform.”
Even after rising by 27 percent, there is still an argument to be made that Square is trading at a discount. It’s still over 30 percent off from the consensus estimate of $84, and as large market headwinds evaporate and the company recovers from it’s shift in leadership, more upside should be imminent.