What happened

Shares of Shopify (NYSE:SHOP), the e-commerce software juggernaut, were pulling back today on a broader sell-off in high-growth tech stocks and as Citigroup rated the stock neutral.

As of 10:37 a.m. EST, the stock was down 3.9%. At the same time, the Nasdaq Composite was off 1.3%, showing the broader decline in the tech sector .

A man ordering a pair of shoes on his smartphone.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

High-priced growth stocks like Shopify have declined over the last couple of weeks as bond yields have risen and expectations of a rapid recovery from the pandemic are increasing. This morning, yields on the 10-year Treasury bonds rose 5%, approaching 1.5%, a reflection of rising inflation expectations. That's prompting a rotation out of growth stocks and into safer options like bonds as it's raising the discount rate and therefore devaluing stocks whose earnings are mostly in the distant future, like Shopify. 

The other news today was Citigroup analyst Tyler Radke assuming coverage of the stock with a neutral rating. Investors often interpret hold or neutral ratings to be euphemisms for sell, though Radke also gave the stock a price target of $1,457, which implies 16% upside from the current price. Radke also said the company had multiple ways to drive traffic and expand its take rate, but is waiting for more evidence that Shopify can monetize these opportunities.

Now what

Shopify has been one of the biggest winners during the pandemic as it's benefited from the shift in consumer demand from brick-and-mortar channels to e-commerce and seen a surge in new sign-ups. Revenue jumped 94% in the fourth quarter to $977.7 million, though the company was more cautious about growth in 2021, saying it still expects "rapid growth" but at a lower rate than in 2020.

Indeed, the economic reopening is likely to drive a shift in spending away from e-commerce and to services like travel, restaurants, and entertainment. If treasury yields continue to move higher, expect the pressure on Shopify stock to persist.

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