Media-streaming technology expert Roku (ROKU -0.95%) is riding a wild roller coaster recently. Share prices more than quadrupled in 2019, setting the stock up for a 52% year-to-date dip in the darkest days of the COVID-19 health crisis. Investors soon figured out that the pandemic actually helps Roku grow its business faster, resulting in an equally sharp rebound from the market bottom in March:
After starting a Roku position of my own near the March trough, I pounded the table about this excellent long-term investment. But things changed in August and September, driving Roku's share prices dramatically higher in a hurry. Is Roku still a great buy, or is it time to pump the brakes on this investment opportunity?
Let's find out.
Roku shares traded sideways from July 10 to Aug. 25. The stalled chart caught fire when analyst firm Citigroup issued a bullish research note, driving Roku's share prices 17% higher in the span of three days. Citi analyst Jason Bazinet argued that Roku's active accounts could reach 70 million names by 2022, up from 43 million in the most recent quarterly report.
These gains largely faded away over the next couple of weeks, mostly due to a contract dispute with NBCUniversal and its parent company, Comcast (CMCSA 0.14%). NBCUniversal threatened to cancel Roku's licensing rights for all of its content channels if the media-streaming expert didn't agree to the studio's proposed terms for streaming service Peacock. When the companies worked out their differences over the weekend of Sept. 20, Roku's shares surged 21% higher on the following Monday and Tuesday.
The market landscape around Roku has honestly not changed much in this period. The company faced some hard-nosed contract negotiations but found a solution in the end, so Roku won't be missing out on NBCUniversal content such as Peacock, Universal Studios movies, and Telemundo. Chalk that up as a bullet dodged, not a game-changing success story.
And I agree with Mr. Bazinet's bullish analysis of Roku's prospective account growth, which was accelerated by the COVID-19 lockdowns of the spring. That's a large part of the reason why I invested in this stock a few months ago. Pinning down actual numbers to Roku's customer growth targets adds some flavor and accountability, but it's just a third-party report that might not have the best possible basis for its conclusions. It would be better to see similar target numbers directly from Roku's management, and even that would involve a good deal of guesswork.
So nothing has really changed here, except that Roku's stock price has raced approximately 15% ahead of the S&P 500 since July 10.
I'm not drooling over Roku's stock quite as much as I used to back in the spring. However, the stock remains on my short list of top stock ideas, and I could very well add some more cash to my Roku position at these prices -- or pounce hard if the stock drops for no good reason. "Buy on the dips," as the Wall Street pros say.