Square earnings Q4 2018

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Jack Dorsey, co-founder and chief executive officer of Twitter Inc., listens during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. 

Square reported fourth-quarter earnings that beat analysts’ expectations on Wednesday. But guidance for the first quarter and revenue growth were weaker than expected.

Here’s how the company did compared with Refinitiv consensus estimates:

  • Earnings: 14 cents per share vs. 13 cents per share, forecast by Refinitiv
  • Adjusted revenue: $464 million vs. $454 million, forecast by Refinitiv

Shares fell more than 7 percent following Square’s quarterly report.

The company brought in $464 million of adjusted revenue for the fourth quarter, a 64 percent rise year over year. Square reported adjusted earnings per share of 14 cents, a 6 cent bump from a year earlier.

The San Francisco-based company, run by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, issued earnings-per-share guidance for the first quarter between 6 and 8 cents. Wall Street was looking for 11 cents. Its revenue guidance for the first quarter was in line with analysts’ expectations.

Slower growth also weighed on Square’s stock price. The company’s adjusted revenue grew 53 percent year over year, excluding acquisitions. That’s down from 56 percent in the third quarter. Wall Street had been expecting roughly 60 percent revenue growth year over year.

Subscription and services-based revenue, a closely watched metric by Wall Street, was a bright spot. The company reported $194 million in that portion of revenue, 144 percent jump year over year. For the full year, Square notched $592 million in subscription and services-based revenue, up 134 percent year over year.

Square’s peer-to-peer Cash App had another break-out quarter with more than 15 million monthly active customers in December 2018, more than double what it was a year earlier.

“Cash App more than doubled its monthly active customers, and products launched in the past five years are now more than half of our adjusted revenue,” Square CEO Jack Dorsey told CNBC in a statement.

The payment company announced it hired Amrita Ahuja as its new CFO in January. Wednesday marks her first earnings call in the position, filling former CFO Sarah Friar’s void after she stepped down last year. Ahuja held the same position at Blizzard Entertainment, a division of Blizzard.

On the call with analysts, Dorsey highlighted Square’s debit card for businesses that launched in January. It gives Square merchants immediate access to sales made on the payment system, and added to the company’s growing suite of banking products.

“Square Card has been another highlight over the past three months,” Dorsey said. “This is a way for us to continue to serve under-served and un-banked sellers so that they can start a business without even going to a bank.”

Dorsey said 40 percent of merchants didn’t have a business debit card before using the Square Card. The company has increasingly moved into traditional banks’ turf, mostly by servicing small businesses.

“For the year ahead we continue to focus on three things and we will continue to strengthen our omni-channel offering,” Dorsey said. “That means that we add strength to in-person payments to mobile payments and also to online. We’re really excited about everything we’re doing in financial services.”

The stock has rallied 40 percent this year, and more than 70 percent year over year. Square shares were slightly higher ahead of the earnings announcement, trading near $78.95.

— CNBC’s Deidre Bosa contributed reporting.

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