BNPL provider Affirm set to extend rally on upgrade, Cyber Monday boost

(Reuters) -Shares of Affirm Holdings looked set to extend a rally on Tuesday following a rating upgrade and data that showed more price-conscious shoppers had turned to buy now, pay later (BNPL) services during Cyber Monday.

BNPL usage in the U.S. hit an all-time high on Cyber Monday, contributing $940 million in online spend, up 42.5% from a year earlier, according to data from Adobe Analytics.

Overall, sales in the U.S. during one of the biggest online shopping days hit a record of $12.4 billion, the data showed.

The number of items per order rose 11%, according to Adobe, as shoppers used BNPL for increasingly larger carts.

Affirm’s shares were up about 2% at $30 on Tuesday, a day after closing 12% higher. The stock has more than tripled in value in 2023 as BNPL gained popularity from customers struggling with high interest rates and red-hot inflation.

On Tuesday, Jefferies upgraded the stock to “hold” from “underperform”, saying data points to “stable, if not improving, credit performance over the last several months which distinguishes AFRM from peers.”

The brokerage also sharply raised its price target to $30 from $9.50.

The average rating of 18 brokerages covering Affirm is “hold.” While analysts’ median target price has moved up to $20.50 from $16.25 a month earlier, it still implies a 30% downside in the next 12 months from the stock’s last close.

However, shares remain just a fraction of the all-time high of $176.65 from two years ago.

Affirm also has high short-seller interest. About 18.5% of its free-float shares worth $1 billion is in short position, according to Ortex data.

(Reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)