Many investors have a hard time avoiding what's called price anchoring. People naturally want investments to at least get back to breakeven if prices drop after making a buy. Of course, timing the bottom in a market or individual stock isn't likely, and comes down to luck if it happens.
Timing shouldn't matter much for long-term investors, though. But that same psychology drives the desire to buy stocks that have come down in price. And when a high-flying growth stock like Peloton Interactive (PTON -3.56%) goes through a price correction, it's worth taking a deeper look at whether it's a good idea to take advantage of the opportunity.
A perfect storm
The connected home-fitness company was one of the darlings of the 2020 stock market, with shares returning more than 400%. It was a top stay-at-home play, as sales exploded. Total revenue doubled for its 2020 fiscal year (which ended June 30, 2020) compared to the prior fiscal year.
The growth continued into 2021, as sales grew another 120% for the year ending June 30, 2021, versus the prior 12-month period. But 2021 has now seen the opposite reaction to the stock. Shares are down 32% year to date, and almost 10% just over the last month.
Investors have traded stay-at-home stocks for those thought to benefit most from reopening. Add in bad publicity from the company having to recall its treadmills due to a safety issue, along with the recently announced price cut for its exercise bikes, and the perfect storm that drove last year's stock gains seems to have subsided.
Addressing a good problem
One of Peloton's biggest problems last year was one most businesses would envy. Surging demand for its products resulted in long lead times and delayed deliveries. Management quickly addressed the supply issues. In December 2020, it announced an agreement to buy Precor, one of the world's largest providers of commercial fitness equipment. That would provide added production capacity.
As it worked to close that transaction, in February 2021 the company said it would invest $100 million to cover expedited air and ocean freight that would get orders delivered more quickly. By May 2021, the company had closed the acquisition of Precor, announced plans to build its first U.S. factory, and said the average wait times for its bikes were back to pre-pandemic levels.
The recurring revenue stream
One of the reasons the stock dropped recently was the announcement that Peloton cut the price of its original bike by $400. But if what was perceived as a product meant for only the wealthy is now more affordable, the lower equipment revenue will eventually be replaced by recurring-subscription revenue. In the fiscal fourth quarter ended June 30, 2021, subscription revenue grew 132% year over year, versus growth of just 35% for the connected-fitness hardware.
For the full fiscal year, subscription revenue represented 22% of total revenue. But that is growing: It was 30% of total revenue in the fourth fiscal quarter. And subscription revenue has a much higher gross profit margin than connected fitness hardware revenue.
Management expects the faster-growing recurring revenue to help boost gross margin by 700 basis points for the 2022 fiscal year compared to the most recent quarter. And even considering the reduced hardware pricing, Peloton is guiding investors to expect a 34% jump in total revenue for its 2022 fiscal year.
Paying up for growth
It's not surprising that a growth stock like Peloton is expensive based on its current business metrics. But using its fiscal 2022 revenue guidance, the stock is trading at a price-to-sales ratio below 6. That's down from approximately 18 at the start of 2021. And considering the popularity of the product and ongoing growth rates in sales, that isn't unreasonable.
But the company isn't just growing in its core business, it is also expanding into commercial equipment through the Precor acquisition. And it has just announced the launch of Peloton Apparel, a private-label line of fitness clothing.
Management's strategy to grow its customer base by lowering equipment prices makes sense. Once a customer purchases a bike or treadmill, the subscription service is difficult to drop. And since subscription revenue provides higher margins, you can start to see a clear path to profitability for Peloton.
With a new apparel business and hardware for commercial locations just getting started, Peloton's future looks good. Now seems like a good opportunity to take advantage of the price drop and buy in before the stock goes back up.