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Nubank IPO: Warren Buffet’s Fintech Play Is Going Public

Nubank, the largest digital bank in the world, is going public on December 8. Should investors jump into this high-profile fintech IPO? Here is what they should know first.

Brazilian fintech giant Nubank is going public on December 8 under ticker “ (NU) ”. Shares should be priced between $8 and $9, depending on demand. The fintech is currently the largest digital bank in the world by number of member accounts. In June 2021, the company raised $500 million from Berkshire Hathaway to become one of Mr. Warren Buffet & Co.’s holdings.

Figure 1: Nubank violet card.

Figure 1: Nubank violet card.

Ahead of the big event, should investors consider jumping into this fintech IPO? Here is what they should know ahead of Nubank’s debut in the public markets.

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Largest fintech in the world

Founded in 2013, Sao Paulo-based Nubank is a “neobank” that offers digital accounts and international credit cards without fees. Nubank stands out in the Brazilian market as customers have full control of their accounts through a mobile app. Also, the company offers personal loans, insurance, and investments services.

Figure 2: Nubank's services and solutions.

Figure 2: Nubank's services and solutions.

Nubank has reported that it currently has 48 million members, with an average of 40,000 new accounts being opened each day. This is 25% more than the same period in 2020 and represents a CAGR of 110% since the third quarter of 2018.

Regarding Nubank’s financial results, the company has been posting strong revenue growth as well as steady gross margin expansion (see chart below). As opex also keeps climbing to support growth, however, Nubank has consistently incurred net losses.

Lastly, Nubank was considered one of the top 100 most influential companies in the world by TIME magazine and one of 50 names in CNBC’s 2021 Disruptor list.

Figure 3: Nubank's revenue, operating costs, total loss and gross margin data.

Figure 3: Nubank's revenue, operating costs, total loss and gross margin data.

Nubank’s IPO

On December 8, the company expects to go public at a valuation a little over 40 billion. The company expects its stock to be priced at $10-$11 per share for a capital raise of $3.3 billion. However, in the case of extra lots being offered, this number could reach $4.9 billion.

Nubank’s IPO will be unique in a couple of ways. For example, the company may offer free shares to active customers, maybe to catch the attention and attract more users to the platform. Second, only Nubank customers will qualify for the retail offer, shutting out competitors like XP  (XP) - Get Free Report and BTG.

The Warren Buffet seal of approval

Berkhsire Hathaway  (BRK.A) - Get Free Report, Warren Buffet’s holding company, announced in July 2021 that it owned a $500 million stake in Nubank’s equity. The investment made Nubank the most valuable fintech in the world, at an estimated $30 billion, and one of the largest financial institutions in Latin America.

Figure 4: Warren Buffet, Berkshire Hathaway's Chairman and CEO.

Figure 4: Warren Buffet, Berkshire Hathaway's Chairman and CEO.

Buffet’s investment philosophy is a value one: i.e. companies that have solid fundamentals, strong earnings power, the potential for continued growth, and reasonable valuations. Berkshire Hathaway’s investment in Nubank can help to reinforce retail investors’ confidence in the stock, given Warren Buffet and his team’s well-regarded track record.

Fintech’s profitability challenge

As an alternative to large banks in Latin America, fintech companies offer user-friendly services with little bureaucracy and low fees. As the industry gains scale, large financial institutions will be forced to rethink their business models. Third-party surveys show that the sector is expected to grow 25% by 2022.

The big challenge for fintech today is to reach profitability. Superior user experience and low fees come at a price: large numbers of active users, but low op margins. Companies that can figure out how to balance growth and profitability will likely reap the benefits.

Nubank turned a profit for the first time in the first half of 2021, when the company delivered net income equivalent to $14.7 million. The battle for sustainable profits has not been won yet, however, as the company’s management team stated in the IPO filling:

"We need to generate and maintain a revenue growth level and decrease the costs proportionally in the future to reach profitability. We anticipate that we will keep incurring losses in the short term as a result of significant investments expected in our business."

(Disclaimers: this is not investment advice. The author may be long one or more stocks mentioned in this report. Also, the article may contain affiliate links. These partnerships do not influence editorial content. Thanks for supporting Wall Street Memes)