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Happy Birthday, You Wild Yet Beautiful Peloton IPO

By Rick Munarriz – Sep 26, 2020 at 9:00AM

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Peloton went public exactly one year ago. It's a big winner now, but it didn't start out that way.

It may seem like any other Saturday in the middle of a pandemic, but this also happens to be the one-year anniversary of the day Peloton Interactive (PTON -6.17%) went public. The now eponymous brand in the booming home fitness market hit the market on Sept. 26, 2019.

Peloton has gone on to become one of this year's hottest stocks, but it certainly didn't start out that way. Underwriters priced the offering at $29, but like its stationary bikes, the stock didn't really go anywhere initially. There was no hot IPO pop. It opened slightly lower -- at $27.17. The shares continued to drift lower through the trading day, closing at $25.76. It was a rough start for a company that seemed to check off most of the growth stock boxes, but we all know that the story was about to get better.

A couple sharing a Peloton bike workout at home.

Image source: Peloton Interactive.

Riding into 2020

Peloton spent its first seven weeks of trading as a broken IPO. It wasn't until mid-November that it finally poked its head above the $29 price that institutional and well-connected retail investors paid to get in on the offering before its market debut. It didn't last. Despite delivering strong growth for its hardware and connected fitness platform, investors were skeptical. The stock closed out 2019 at $28.40, a broken IPO once again.

It didn't help that Peloton's marketing team was blasted for a holiday shopping ad it started to run in late November. The 30-second video commercial featured a woman receiving a Peloton bike as a Christmas gift from her partner, and chronicled her first year of usage. A montage of selfie clips has her discussing how transformational her first year of ownership was thanks to Peloton. Shareholders probably feel the same way.

Peloton has gone from punchline to market darling. The stock has more than tripled in 2020. It was already growing its fan base at a healthy clip, but the COVID-19 crisis elevated fitness at home to a whole new level. 

Its membership base has more than doubled since its IPO. Revenue is accelerating, up a scorching 173% in its latest quarter. Retention was always going to be good when folks make a four-figure commitment to Peloton hardware, but churn is now at a four-year low as gyms and spinning classes either aren't available or aren't perceived to be entirely safe. 

As good as things are going and with a backlog of several weeks for anyone wanting in on the Peloton connected fitness platform, the freshly christened Wall Street winner revamped its product lineup earlier this month. It lowered the price of its flagship stationary bike and introduced a cheaper treadmill. Investors tend to flinch when lower prices are introduced, but in Peloton's case the market's applauding the move to throw out a wider net to build on its more than 3 million current members. 

It's fair to say that investing in IPOs has its ups and downs. Peloton is living proof that you can bounce back from a rough start. It was a challenging first few months of ownership. The stock fell all the way down to the high teens when the pandemic sell-off bottomed out in mid-March, only to stage one of the market's better comeback stories. Peloton has had a wild but ultimately lucrative rookie year. Let's see what it does in its second year as a publicly traded company. 

Rick Munarriz owns shares of Peloton Interactive. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Peloton Interactive. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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