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Bargain Shopping? This Stock Is Down 77% in 2021

By Parkev Tatevosian, CFA – Dec 31, 2021 at 5:00AM

Key Points

  • Demand for Peloton's products surged during the initial phases of the pandemic.
  • Economic reopening is now lessening the demand for in-home exercise equipment.
  • Peloton's stock is now trading at a price-to-sales ratio of less than 3.

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This company thrived during the pandemic, but economic reopening has reversed the benefits.

Investors looking for bargains can often find them in the stock market. Poor performance, negative perception, and the fear of losing money can all cause stocks to sell off and trade at lower-than-usual prices. 

Peloton (PTON 2.62%) is one of those stocks that have sold off considerably in 2021. Indeed, the stock is down 77% this year. Let's look at what has caused it to fall so hard and whether it's a good value for bargain-shopping investors.

Two people smiling on exercise bikes.

Image source: Getty Images.

Peloton management overcorrected 

The clearest reason Peloton's stock fell so much is the worldwide economic reopening. Peloton's products were in high demand when economies were in various phases of lockdowns and nonessential businesses, including gyms, were forced to close their doors to the public. That limited the ways folks could exercise, and they turned to Peloton in large numbers. 

The surge in demand was so pronounced that Peloton had difficulty fulfilling orders. At one point, customers had to wait more than ten weeks to receive their exercise equipment. In response, management made investments to increase manufacturing capacity and reduce delivery times.

Unfortunately for Peloton, several effective vaccines against COVID-19 were developed, economies started reopening, and demand for in-home exercise equipment decreased. Meanwhile, Peloton is stuck with a higher expense base because of its investments to increase capacity. In its most recent quarter ended Sept. 30, Peloton reported a net loss of $367 million compared to a net profit of $69.3 million at the same time last year.

To make matters worse, Peloton had decreased the price of its bike from $1,895 to $1,495. The move did create increased purchasing from price-sensitive consumers but not enough to offset the considerable price decrease. As a result, revenue in the connected-fitness-products segment (which includes bike sales) fell from $601 million in the third quarter of 2020 to $501 million in Q3 2021. Meanwhile, supply-chain disruptions are raising input and transportation costs; the cost to fulfill sales increased by 21.1% year over year in Q3.

One potential, near-term bright spot for Peloton is the $1.27 billion of inventory it had on hand ahead of the lucrative holiday shopping season -- up from $937 million in the prior quarter. The quarter ending in December typically is the most lucrative for Peloton, coinciding with not only holiday gift-giving but also new year resolution-induced purchasing. So management is hopeful for strong sales this quarter.

Peloton's stock is a relative bargain 

Peloton's stock has undoubtedly faced a steep price decline in 2021 -- and for clear reasons. Customer demand leveled off as economies reopened; meanwhile, management was making investments to increase capacity. All of this has shaken investor confidence. At one point in the last two years, Peloton's stock was selling at a price-to-sales ratio over 20. As of this writing, it's down to 2.7.

Yet Peloton's stock price crash could now be a bargain for long-term investors who can tolerate any further volatility the company could go through in the short term as it adjusts to changing consumer behavior. 

Parkev Tatevosian has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns and recommends Peloton Interactive. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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