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Better Buy: Nike vs. Peloton

By Neil Patel - May 28, 2021 at 6:30AM

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In this battle of prominent consumer-facing businesses, which reigns supreme?

Nike (NKE 0.11%) and Peloton Interactive (PTON 1.02%) are two of the best consumer brands out there. The former, known for its marketing expertise, is a $212 billion global leader in athletic apparel and footwear. The latter, a young and fast-growing maker of sophisticated exercise equipment, is expanding the market for at-home fitness. 

Both companies are dealing with their own set of issues, but they still have solid investment merits. Which is the better buy? 

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Image source: Getty Images.

The case for Nike 

In Nike's most recent quarter (third-quarter 2021), revenue only rose 2.5% from the prior-year period, as the company was plagued by problems in its domestic supply chain, such as shipping container shortages and port congestion. It's not the only company dealing with such issues, which resulted in North American sales falling 10% in the three-month period. 

Regardless of these transitory concerns that I'm confident the company will figure out, Nike continues to benefit from some key developments. 

First, Nike is a leader in its ability to use technology as a way to attract and engage consumers. Digital sales increased 59% in the third quarter, and this channel now accounts for 35% of overall revenue. The business is well on its way to achieving its long-term target of a 50% digital mix. 

Bolstering its technological capabilities is the popular SNKRS app, where Nike, now utilizing live-streaming product drops, is seeing four times the engagement of monthly active users compared to last year. 

"Nike's brand momentum is as strong as ever and we are driving focused growth against our largest opportunities," said CFO Matt Friend. "We continue to see the value of a more direct, digitally enabled strategy, fueling even greater potential for Nike over the long term." 

Another aspect of Nike's strength is its huge success in the Greater China segment. This region is the fastest-growing for the company, registering sales gains of 51% in Q3. Like many American consumer brands, expect this area, which currently represents just over one-fifth of Nike's total business, to drive a lot of the growth going forward. 

The case for Peloton 

Let's first discuss the bad news for Peloton. The company continues to make progress on its own supply chain and delivery issues. Wait times for its flagship Bike are back to pre-pandemic levels of one to three weeks, but Peloton now has to deal with the fallout of Tread and Tread+ safety concerns. 

The recall of these two products is estimated to cost the company $165 million in lost revenue in the current quarter, which is now forecast to come in at $915 million. This is a major problem for Peloton, but I ultimately think the company will be better because of it. Management can show fault and admit to customers that they made a mistake, while using this incident as a chance to improve product development and customer service going forward. 

In the midst of this adversity, Peloton continues pedaling faster. In the quarter that ended March 31, sales skyrocketed 143% to reach $1.3 billion. Additionally, total connected fitness subscriptions went from 886,000 in the year-ago period to breaching the 2-million mark this quarter. Average monthly workouts were up, and member churn and retention remain at very attractive levels. 

The business is still exhibiting remarkable momentum as we start to move past the pandemic, but investors will be interested in how performance looks as consumers feel comfortable going back to gyms again. Time will tell, but with remote work becoming an increasingly popular situation for many people, Peloton stands to gain. 

Peloton also looks to replicate its success stateside in the Asia-Pacific region, first entering the Australian market later this year. Initially offering stationary bikes and the digital workout app, the entrance into and potential success of this massive market is a big positive for the company. 

Which is the better buy? 

In summation, I don't see why both of these stocks can't be nice additions to a balanced portfolio. 

Nike offers a solid foundation and bedrock due to its longer operating history, established competitive positioning, and steady growth prospects. Peloton, on the other hand, gives investors exposure to the booming at-home fitness market by owning the leading company in the space. 

The recent weakness in Peloton's stock price, down 34% year to date (compared to Nike's 5% fall), is also compelling as an attractive entry point for long-term investors. Chances are, you can't go wrong with whichever stock you choose. 

Neil Patel has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Nike and Peloton Interactive. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

NIKE, Inc. Stock Quote
NIKE, Inc.
NKE
$114.00 (0.11%) $0.13
Peloton Interactive, Inc. Stock Quote
Peloton Interactive, Inc.
PTON
$11.91 (1.02%) $0.12

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