It's been a busy week for the payments stocks, with Mastercard, PayPal and Visa all reporting earnings in recent days.
Those releases have highlighted a shift in consumer spending behavior during the pandemic, with PayPal profits up 86% in the quarter while spending volumes at Visa and MasterCard both declined.
That outperformance is also reflected in their stock prices. As PayPal has soared nearly 80% this year, Mastercard and Visa are both up just 3%.
Matt Maley, chief market strategist at Miller Tabak, said PayPal could be vulnerable to weakness.
"We … have to remember that stocks, even stocks of the best companies, can get way ahead of themselves sometimes. I mean, let's face it, look what Amazon has done over the past 20 years — it's changed the world — but it's had many, many big declines after it got too far," Maley told CNBC's "Trading Nation" on Thursday.
Maley said PayPal may not see as big a decline as the 90% drop Amazon suffered during the dot-com bubble collapse. However, he sees the high likelihood of a pullback in PayPal after its recent run, he said.
"You can see, if you look at its weekly RSI chart, it's getting very, very overbought, and it's gone above 80 right now. It had gotten a bit higher than that one other time, in 2017, but this is getting very frothy. Of course, the most recent move has been kind of parabolic," said Maley.
The relative strength index measures overbought and oversold conditions. A reading above 70 typically suggests a stock is overbought.
Once PayPal pulls back, as Maley suspects, a different payments stock could have its turn to shine, he said.
"Visa is still a great company. It may not … have the long-term potential that PayPal has, but if it can break above $200 and break above the sideways range it has been in for a while, it's going to be a better performer," said Maley.
John Petrides, portfolio manager at Tocqueville Asset Management, is betting the entire e-commerce and e-payments space can thrive.
"This is a great long-term investment thesis that we're putting our clients towards, and that's the movement away from a cash-based society. Cash as a percentage of purchases and coins are just going to go down. When you add in the fact of Covid and we have to move to contactless, that why you're going to see more of a movement away from cash and towards electronic payments and e-payments," said Petrides during the same segment.
Petrides uses the FINX Global FinTech ETF to play the entire basket of e-payments stocks. The ETF, which holds PayPal, is up 18% this year.
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