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Afterpay share price up 550% since February. Is it too late to buy?

The Afterpay Ltd (ASX: APT) share price dropped from $40.50 on February 19 to just $8.90 on 23 March in the early phase of the coronavirus pandemic. That’s a whopping decrease of 78%.

Since then the Afterpay share price has been on an amazing uphill climb. At the time of writing it is trading at $57.94. That’s an increase since late March of 550%!

A positive recent business update in mid-April has definitely helped to push the Afterpay share price higher.

Afterpay has proved many critics wrong. It has continued to deliver explosive underlying sales growth despite subdued economic times.

Is it too late to buy shares in Afterpay? Or is there still a long-term opportunity for investors right now?

What other factors are driving the Afterpay share price higher?

A very positive update for its US operations in late May also helped push its share price higher. Almost 9 million US consumers have now joined its platform since its launch over 2 years ago.

In addition, WeChat owner Tencent Holdings recently become a significant shareholder in Afterpay. The popularity of the WeChat app in Asia is massive. This could potentially be an important stepping stone for Afterpay in entering the Asian market in the future.

The buy-now, pay-later (BNPL) provider continues to make significant investments to scale the business into a world-class global platform. This has included a number of recent senior management hires, and Afterpay is investing heavily in marketing. It also has brought on board a growing number of global brands such as Samsung and Foot Locker.

Afterpay also recently launched a partnership with Apple that will enable its platform to be integrated with Apple Pay. This will further simplify the process of using Afterpay and could assist in increasing adoption and usage, particularly in the US market.

Competition growing, but Afterpay’s scale advantage is still significant

Afterpay is still growing strongly in its home market of Australia and New Zealand (ANZ). However, it is now starting to face growing competition from other BNPL providers such as Zip Co Ltd (ASX: Z1P) and Openpay Group Ltd (ASX: OPY).

Despite this, Afterpay’s size and scale superiority provide a distinct advantage in winning major deals.

Afterpay is still 6 times bigger than its nearest rival Zip Co, and more than 60 times bigger than Openpay. The BPNL provider has a current market capitalization $15.5 billion, compared to only $2.34 billion for Zip Co and to only $269 million for much small rival Openpay.

Is it too late to buy Afterpay shares?

With the Afterpay share price now reaching over $55, it is now looking a bit pricey. Well factored into Afterpay’s current share price are expectations for very strong growth to continue over the next few years. However, I believe that Afterpay is relatively well-positioned to achieve this goal.

Afterpay is expanding rapidly into the massive US market and could possibly expand into mainland Europe and Asia in the future.

Further expansion globally in the BPNL sector led by Afterpay, is also likely to see further investment injected into this sector globally over the next few years.

If Afterpay is looking too pricey for your portfolio, perhaps these $5 and under shares below will take your interest?

5 stocks under $5

We hear it over and over from investors, "I wish I had bought Altium or Afterpay when they were first recommended by The Motley Fool. I'd be sitting on a gold mine!" And it's true.

And while Altium and Afterpay have had a good run, we think these 5 other stocks are screaming buys. And you can buy them now for less than $5 a share!

*Extreme Opportunities returns as of June 5th 2020

Phil Harpur owns shares of AFTERPAY T FPO. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of ZIPCOLTD FPO. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of AFTERPAY T FPO. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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