The Sofi Technologies (NASDAQ:SOFI) pullback, which started in November, has carried on into the new year. Since the start of 2022, SOFI stock has taken another 5% plunge, changing hands now for around $15 per share.
What has caused this continued decline for the fintech play? The prospect of higher interest rates in 2022. The U.S. Federal Reserve plans to raise interest rates at least three times this year. Generally, higher rates mean lower valuation multiples for growth stocks.
Worse yet, another selloff caused by rate hikes could occur soon. That is, if the Fed’s response to inflation ends up happening at a faster pace, as some analysts are starting to predict. That steeper climb in interest rates will likely cause more multiple compression. But while bad for the near term, this isn’t a reason to skip out on SOFI stock entirely.
Like I’ve discussed before, further volatility caused by interest rate changes could push Sofi to a “can’t miss” entry point. Not only that, a larger increase in interest rates will bode well for the company’s underlying business. SOFI may not be a buy today, but it’s one to keep an eye on in case it takes another dive.
The Latest with SOFI Stock
With recent news suggesting the Fed would raise rates faster and sooner this year, growth plays found themselves under pressure. That resulted in another round of declines.
This factor and, to a lesser extent bearish forecasts for fintech from the sell-side, has caused the additional drop in SOFI stock. Interest rate fears could cool off again in the immediate term. For now, the market may believe it has readjusted valuations to reflect likely rate increases. However, between now and when the Fed officially raises rates in March, we may see another wave of volatility.
Why? Well, there could be more than just three interest rate increases in 2022. Even worse, the size of each increase could be greater than just 25 basis points (0.25%). Of course, that’s not to say the Fed is ready to heed outspoken billionaire Bill Ackman, who recently called for an initial 50 basis point (0.5%) jump in interest rates. Still, when it comes to upcoming rate hikes, it may be wise to expect the unexpected.
Given that inflation is at multi-decade highs, the central bank may end up taking drastic action. A big spike in interest rates could mean another round of big declines for the stocks that thrived during the pandemic’s near-zero interest rate environment.
Higher Interest Rates Have a Silver Lining
If the scenario described above plays out, SOFI stock could plunge again, even as it continues to have a very high rate of projected annual revenue growth (43.3% this year). Of course, a potential plunge to under $10 per share may appear discouraging on the onset. Many other former special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) have fallen below their intial $10 per share price and haven’t returned to double digits. However, I wouldn’t view a move to under $10 as any sort of “game over” moment. In fact, I would view it as an opportunity.
Unlike some other SPAC deals, the underlying business here is strong. Based on Sofi’s last reported quarterly results, the fintech firm appears set to continue scaling up. Someday it could become one of the top digital-first financial supermarkets like Block (NYSE:SQ) and PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL).
After the market absorbs interest rate changes, continued strong results will enable SOFI stock to start bouncing back. Along with this, other positive developments could help fuel it to higher prices — including a development enhanced by higher interest rates.
The development? When Sofi obtains a bank charter. This is expected to happen sometime in 2022. Getting a bank charter is already seen as a game-changer for Sofi. But investors should also take into account how rising rates are a positive for banking profitability. Sofi’s move into more traditional lending operations could enable it to get out of the red much sooner.
Sofi Is a Buy if It Drops Again
All told, my take on Sofi Technologies is largely unchanged from past articles. In a nutshell, waiting for another pullback is the best move here. Sure, there is a risk that its current price is the bottom. Shares could bounce back and see investors missing out on the recovery.
Then again, as it appears more likely that the market will have at least one more negative reaction to rising interest rates? The opportunity to lock down a long-term position in SOFI stock at lower prices looks likely. When it comes to this name, wait for that moment before buying.
On the date of publication, Thomas Niel did not hold (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
Thomas Niel, contributor for InvestorPlace.com, has been writing single-stock analysis for web-based publications since 2016.