It's no secret we're in a highly uncertain economy created by the efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. unemployment rate, while showing some improvement recently, is still hovering around 8% and is significantly higher than the 3.5% it was in February just prior to the pandemic.
In this uncertain economic environment, it can be reassuring for investors to own stock in businesses that are not only surviving but are thriving in the midst of COVID-19.
Peloton Interactive (NASDAQ:PTON), Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), and Spotify (NYSE:SPOT) are three tech companies that are thriving despite (or to some extent, because of) the coronavirus. Let's find out a little more about them and why these three stocks are currently doing so well.
1. Peloton: The home fitness revolution
Peloton's business is on fire due to its very popular exercise bikes coupled with a growing desire by many exercise enthusiasts to avoid public gyms right now. Last quarter, the number of Connected Fitness subscribers -- those who own a Peloton bike or treadmill and subscribe monthly to the interactive content -- grew 113% year over year to almost 1.1 million, while revenue grew a jaw-dropping 172% over the same period.
But Peloton's strong growth is nothing new, and it's not only due to the pandemic. The company's fiscal year that just ended in June was the sixth straight year the company has more than doubled its number of Connected Fitness subscribers. And the midpoint of management's guidance range for the current fiscal year suggests Connected Fitness subscribers will grow another 90%.
Granted, the tailwind the company is benefiting from today won't last forever. But Peloton's success, even pre-COVID, proves its growth isn't solely a pandemic phenomenon. The company has developed an incredibly popular product and service, as evidenced by its Net Promoter Score (NPS), a measure of how likely people are to recommend a product or service to a friend. Peloton's NPS was 94 in July among North American Peloton bike owners. For context, NPS is measured on a scale of -100 to 100 with a score above 0 considered good, above 50 considered excellent, and above 70 considered world-class. Few companies have that kind of enthusiasm from their customers.
While the company won't keep doubling its Connected Fitness subscribers forever, and growth will slow eventually, it seems likely the company will continue to grow strongly well into the future even without this tailwind.
2. Netflix: The streaming-video-on-demand pioneer
Streaming service Netflix has also seen accelerated paid subscriber growth this year due to the pandemic. Through June 30, the company grew global paid subscribers 27% versus a year earlier. And through the first half of 2020, it has added 25.9 million paid net subscribers, which dwarfs the 12.3 million it added in the first half of 2019 and is almost as much as the 27.8 million it added for all of 2019. Consumers around the world are flocking to Netflix due to its highly engaging and cost-effective service as more of us spend more time at home.
A worsening pandemic is a net benefit for the company. While it has caused some hiccups in Netflix's production of original content, the company has had a long pipeline of shows in post-production that allowed it to continue releasing new content. It's also been offered all sorts of movie content from other studios that can't release it in theaters.
Like Peloton, Netflix had an incredibly popular and growing service even before COVID-19. And also like Peloton, the company's subscriber growth will slow in the not-so-distant future from the currently abnormally high rates. But it still has a huge global opportunity to grow subscribers in the decades ahead.
3. Spotify: The audio streaming leader
If you look at audio streaming service Spotify's financial statements this year, you would barely be able to tell there's a global pandemic going on. For the last three full years, Spotify has grown its total monthly active users (MAUs) year over year by 30%, 29%, and 31%, respectively. Through the first half of 2020, with COVID-19 raging, it has grown MAUs by 29%.
The one blip has been the company's ad-supported business, which has seen softness. Ad revenue declined 4% year over year through the first half of this year, including 21% in the second quarter. But the ad-supported business is a very small part of the company today, making up only about 7% of total revenue last quarter. So even its recent weakness was barely noticeable for the overall company, which grew total revenue by 13% year over year last quarter.
Like Netflix, Spotify is far and away the leader in its category, audio streaming, and has a huge global growth opportunity in the years ahead. Spotify's 299 million MAUs at the end of June could easily number in the billions over the next decade or two. It should also benefit from meaningful profit margin expansion as it gets deeper into podcasting.
That's why investors should consider Spotify one of the tech companies that's thriving despite coronavirus.