The coronavirus pandemic has turned markets upside down.
Sectors like financials, energy, and consumer discretionary have been hit hard as consumers have spent more time at home, and so-called "stay-at-home" stocks like Zoom Video Communications and Peloton have soared along with e-commerce, benefiting from the shift in consumer behavior.
No one knows when a COVID-19 vaccine will eventually come out, but when it does, it's a good bet that traditional consumer behavior will return. While some business leaders believe there will be a permanent shift to remote work and e-commerce, there will also be pent-up demand for pre-COVID ways of living, like socializing in large groups and, for many, returning to the office and the traditional way of life.
Few large companies have been impacted by the pandemic as much as Disney. Nearly every component of its business, including its theme parks and resorts, movie releases, and live sports, has been upended by the crisis. Six months after the pandemic began, the company is still operating its parks at reduced capacity, and it just delayed a slate of blockbuster movies set to debut this year. Many of the challenges it's facing will endure until a vaccine is discovered and distributed.
Despite those headwinds, Disney actually managed to deliver a slight operating profit in its most recent quarter, a period that included the bulk of the lockdowns in the U.S. and Europe. Though it lost nearly $5 billion on a generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) basis, the entirety of the loss was owed to restructuring and impairment charges as the company wrote down the value of assets like its international Disney Channels. The company posted an adjusted profit in part because of costs saved due to sports cancellations, but the results show the business is more resilient than investors thought.
There is one component of Disney's business that has shined during the pandemic: streaming, and in particular Disney+. The namesake service that the company launched last November has already racked up more than 60 million subscribers, and should help reinforce the strength of the brand at at time when other Disney experiences are unavailable.
Once a COVID-19 vaccine is fully deployed, Disney is likely to benefit from both the increased subscriber base in its streaming business, which also includes Hulu and ESPN+, and a surge of pent-up demand for its theme parks, as tourists and fans are likely to come flooding back. While that may not happen until 2022, when it does, it will almost certainly be Disney's best year ever, likely giving the stock a jolt.
2. Planet Fitness
There's no question that the pandemic has been a disaster for the gyms and the fitness industry in general. Gyms have been closed in many states as part of restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus, and even when they've reopened, many gym-goers are reluctant or fearful of contracting the virus. They'd rather work out in their own homes, where they don't have to wear a mask or follow other safety protocols.
Planet Fitness saw revenue decline 78% in the second quarter and posted a loss of $29.2 million, and though most of its fitness centers have now reopened, the company faces stiff headwinds as many people simply don't feel comfortable exercising in a gym. Still, Planet Fitness is in a much stronger financial position than many of its competitors, including independent gyms and exercise studios, and chains that have declared bankruptcy like Gold's Gym and 24-Hour Fitness. Planet Fitness finished the second quarter with $423 million in cash, giving it a sufficient safety net to survive the crisis.
Once a vaccine comes on the market, people are likely to return to gyms and fitness classes, eager to resume their old workout routines. Additionally, the return of social events will be another incentive for many people to get back in shape. Workout options like Peloton have thrived during the pandemic, but Planet Fitness competes for a much different customer, offering memberships at just $10/month compared to an exercise bike that costs about $2,000. Many of its customers have no other good, similarly priced option for accessing the kind of gym equipment available at Planet Fitness because they don't have space in their homes to install a home gym, and workout classes or something like Peloton is too expensive. That should help drive Planet Fitness' comeback when it's safe to return.
Ridesharing companies like Lyft are in a difficult position these days, as nearly all of the major use cases for such transportation, including commuting, going home after a night out, and traveling to the airport, have significantly declined. However, the company has cut costs sharply and kept its adjusted EBITDA loss to $280.3 million in the second quarter, better than the company's expectations, as revenue tumbled 61% to $339.3 million. Lyft also laid off 17% of its workforce at the end of April, which should help streamline the business once it returns to full health.
While the company's results will continue to be ugly during the pandemic, Lyft has enough cash on its balance sheet to make it through the crisis with nearly $3 billion in cash and short-term investments, and just $623 million in debt.
The company was previously targeting profitability on an adjusted EBITDA basis by the end of next year, and is still on track, provided a vaccine comes out between now and then. In its August earnings call, the company said it had achieved $300 million in annual savings, which would allow it to be profitable with 20% to 25% fewer rides, or annual revenue of around $5 billion. By comparison, the company had $3.6 billion in revenue last year.
Unlike most of the stocks that have suffered during the pandemic, Lyft was delivering high growth in pre-COVID days. Revenue jumped 68% in 2019, and the company was calling for 27% to 29% growth in 2020. Once a COVID-19 vaccine is available, Lyft rides should surge as Americans return to old habits, and pent-up demand for social events and travel should drive the company's revenue back to all-time highs.
Lyft shares are now down 37% year to date, giving significant upside to a recovery.