The ad is to blame for Peloton being in the public eye for the wrong reasons, but can’t be framed for causing all the company’s recent stock price declines. Having a brand-centric company’s name drawn into controversy can have a larger impact on a momentum-focused stock than on, say, an industrials concern whose brand isn’t in the consumer eye. But it isn’t enough, on its own, to explain Peloton’s recent value erosion.
Still, it does matter that Peloton is shedding value after it helped an already fit woman become slightly more fit while her husband slept in. That other brands have picked up on the ad segment (which also got a mention on Saturday Night Live) has helped keep the episode alive far longer than it might have on its own.
Peloton, a heavily backed company that raised nearly $1 billion while private, went public earlier this year worth $29 per share. Its post-IPO life was initially fraught, as the company’s losses were rising sharply alongside its revenue leading to investor unrest.
For context, Peloton lost about four times as much in its fiscal year ending June 30, 2019 (a net loss of $195.6 million) compared to the preceding fiscal year ($47.9 million). As the market rejected the WeWork IPO and SmileDirectClub’s own losses seemed to push investors away from high-growth, high-loss companies, Peloton’s debut quickly slipped underwater as its shares closed under its IPO price.
Then things got better. After Peloton reported its first earnings as a public company in early November, its share price recovered, cresting its IPO price and reaching $37 per share. Today the company is worth just a little over $30 per share, a sharp retread from its return to form.
If the ad isn’t entirely to blame, why is Peloton losing value? Short interest is helping spook investors about the company’s future prospects recently, and, I would add, the company’s churn rate is rising.
Regarding the short interest, you can read the report in question here, but it deals mainly with the possible challenge of lower-priced, third-party hardware being paired with Peloton’s lower-cost media option. This would undercut Peloton’s revenue twice, though consumers would still add to the company’s subscription revenue category in the scenario. The same group also points out that Peloton’s valuation per subscriber is higher than some market comps; how to weigh those concerns we leave to you.
Turning to churn, observe the following data from Peloton’s recent earnings report:
The table shows Peloton’s average churn rising from 0.50% to 0.90%. That’s up 80% in a single year. If that trend continues, some of the money that Peloton spent on sales and marketing in the calendar year 2019 will look a bit more expensive than it did at first; rising churn lowers the lifetime value of a subscriber, making marketing spend less efficient.
Peloton shares are down, but remain far above its recent lows, and the company is still worth far more today ($8.5 billion) than it was as a private company ($4.1 billion). The ad, of course, hasn’t helped.