No matter your opinion on President Biden’s student debt relief plan, for SoFi Technologies (NASDAQ:SOFI) stock, it’s hard to deny that this announcement has only provided temporary relief. After surging on the news, shares in the fintech firm have given back their gains.
Returning to around $6 per share, you may think SoFi has bottomed out. Especially as selling from large shareholders like Softbank (OTCMKTS:SFTBY), and certain exchange-traded-funds (or ETFs) may be easing. Yet even if it’s hitting a near-term bottom, that doesn’t mean now’s the time to buy ahead of a recovery.
Macro uncertainties could still weigh on it. They could keep the stock rangebound, or worse, push it down to even lower prices. If the stock had ample long-term upside potential, this wouldn’t necessarily be an issue. However, long-term prospects are also up for debate. In short, my view on SOFI stock is unchanged.
Why SOFI Stock May Flounder in the Near-Term
While shares have pulled back, it’s not as if the student loan program has been the main factor driving it lower. Stocks overall have sold off again, on the prospect of the Federal Reserve continuing to raise interest rates to curb inflation.
Doing so could hurt SOFI stock in two ways. First, higher interest rates mean more pressure on growth stock valuations. Priced on (potential) future results, its discounted present valuation could take another hit.
Second, higher rates increase the chances of a recession. A recession could affect the performance of its loan portfolio. It could also negatively impact its revenue growth, and extend its timeline out of the red, and into consistent profitability.
Biden’s student debt plan, which entails both partial forgiveness and a resumption of payments this January, does little to change the story. As I argued late last month, the upcoming changes may not necessarily result in borrowers refinancing their Federal student loans with a private lender like SoFi.
Again, the macro uncertainties stand to keep shares either rangebound or push them even lower in the near term. Worse yet, it’s hard to argue this will turn out to be a “short-term pain for long-term gains” situation.
An Eventual Return to Double-Digit Prices Remains Questionable
Investors bullish on SOFI stock may admit that a return to its past high (nearly $25 per share) is a tall order. Its move to such lofty price levels was mainly a product of the speculative frenzy playing out last year.
Still, those owning it today may expect that a partial recovery will ultimately happen. Say, a return to $10-$15 per share. With this, buying now, or on further weakness, would look like a wise move, right?
It would be a potentially wise move if there wasn’t so much clouding the argument that this financial services “disruptor” can sustain such a valuation. To get there, SoFi Technologies not only needs to start reporting positive earnings. It also needs to eventually generate earnings high enough to justify a $10-$15 per share stock price.
Current long-term analyst forecasts call for the company to earn just 28 cents per share by 2025. Assuming by then the stock would sport a valuation similar to that of a mature fintech company like PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL). If we apply PYPL stock’s current forward multiple (23.6x), that gives us a valuation of around $6.60 per share. That’s barely above where SOFI trades today.
Bottom Line on SOFI Stock
As mentioned, my view on SoFi remains unchanged. The stock continues to earn a D rating in my Portfolio Grader. It’s growing clearer that the student loan relief catalyst isn’t going to have a tremendous effect on the company’s operating performance.
Lifting the student loan moratorium may fail to result in a substantial increase in private student loan refinancing.
Coupled with other negatives that may affect results in the near term the shares could trade sideways, at best. At worst, they could move lower. Besides being a frustrating investment in the short term, SOFI could also end up being a disappointing investment in the years ahead.
Far from going up 2x, 3x, or even more, shares could deliver middling returns over a longer timeframe. With this, combined with its likely near-term trajectory, staying away continues to be the better move with SOFI stock.
On the date of publication, neither Louis Navellier nor the InvestorPlace Research Staff member primarily responsible for this article held (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article.