Peloton produces profit for the first time amid pandemic-demand spike, stock pushes toward new record


Peloton Interactive Inc. reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings Thursday afternoon.


MarketWatch photo illustration/iStockphoto

A year after its initial public offering, Peloton Interactive Inc. is pedaling toward new highs amid a pandemic that is forcing people into their homes and away from gyms, creating demand for at-home fitness equipment.

Peloton
PTON,
-3.75%

on Thursday wrapped up its fiscal year by reporting that sales and subscribers roughly doubled in the 12-month period, and revealed its first profitable quarter as a public company and record quarterly revenue a little less than a year after its September 2019 IPO. Shares fell 3.8% Thursday from Wednesday’s record closing price of $91.17 — more than three times the IPO price of $29 a share — but pushed back toward record highs in after-hours trading following the release of the report, with gains of more than 7%.

Peloton reported fiscal fourth-quarter profit of $89.1 million, or 27 cents a share, on sales of $607.1 million, up from $223 million a year ago. Peloton reported a net loss of $47 million in the fiscal fourth quarter a year ago, just ahead of its IPO. Analysts on average expected earnings of 10 cents a share on sales of $586 million, according to FactSet.

“It has been another staggering year of growth, and I know all parts of the organization have had to work together to do everything possible to meet the incredible demand for our products and services,” Chief Executive James Foley said in a conference call Thursday. “The strong tailwind we experienced in March as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold has continued to propel demand for our products into the fourth quarter and first couple of months of Q1 fiscal year 2021.”

While still attempting to catch up to a flood of orders amid the COVID-19 pandemic — Peloton said Thursday it does not expect order-to-delivery times to normalize until around the end of the calendar year — the company is also looking to expand its customer base. On Monday, Peloton announced that it will reduce the price of its standard exercise bike and introduce a lower-priced treadmill, which could clear a path for potential buyers who were not willing to pay the large upfront costs for its products. It will also introduce a premium bike for fans who want top-of-the-line equipment.

Wedbush analysts noted that in a previous survey of 1,200 people, they found that Peloton could “dramatically improve” sales at a lower price point, especially in treadmills.

“42% of non-Peloton owners that were interested in fitness and familiar with the brand showed some level of interest in a $2,500 Tread, compared to just 30% showing interest in the current Tread,” the analysts wrote in a Sept. 9 note, after Peloton announced its new lineup. “Among existing Peloton bike owners, the number of respondents saying they would be ‘very interested’ in owning a treadmill from Peloton doubles based on the lower price, from 14% based on the $4,295 price point to 28% assuming a theoretical (at the time) $2,500 price point.”

While lower sales prices could hurt hardware margins and average selling prices, much of Peloton’s long-term prognosis focuses on the subscriptions for interactive workout media that owners continue to pay after they have received the equipment. Peloton announced Thursday that it now has 1.09 million subscribers, nearly doubling the 511 million that it reported at the end of its last fiscal year, topping its forecast of 1.04 million to 1.05 million.

In total for the fiscal year, Peloton collected revenue of $1.46 billion from the sale of equipment and $363.7 million from subscription services, up from $719 million and $181 million, respectively, in the previous fiscal year. Combined with other revenue from merchandise and other offerings, Peloton ended the year with $1.83 billion in sales, up from $915 million.

“By the end of FY 2020 our Peloton membership base grew to approximately 3.1 million, compared to 1.4 million members in the prior year,” Peloton detailed in a letter to shareholders Thursday. “Fueled in part by the challenges associated with COVID-19, member engagement reached new highs with 164 million Connected Fitness Subscription workouts completed in FY 2020.”

For the current fiscal year, which began in August, Peloton predicted htat subscribers and revenue would roughly double yet again. The company guided for revenue of $3.5 billion to $3.65 billion, with connected subscribers swelling to 2.05 million to 2.1 million. Analysts on average were predicting revenue of $2.74 billion and subscribers of 1.78 million ahead of the report, according to FactSet.

Peloton stock has gained more than 260% since its IPO; the S&P 500 index
SPX,
-1.75%

has returned 17.7% in that time. In after-hours trading Thursday, shares topped $94 following the release of the report.



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After U.S. tech gains, European stocks pause as ECB decision awaits


(FILES) This file photo taken on March 12, 2020 shows flags of the European Union fluttering in front of the headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany.


daniel roland/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

European stocks were steady on Thursday, ahead of a European Central Bank decision and press conference in which expectations are for the central bank to raise concerns about the rise of the euro.

Up 1.6% on Wednesday, the Stoxx Europe 600
SXXP,
+0.16%

was little moved at 369.70.

U.S. stocks, particularly in the tech sector, broke a losing run on Wednesday, as the Nasdaq Composite
COMP,
+2.70%

rallied 2.7%. U.S. stock futures
ES00,
+0.05%

were modestly higher Thursday.

The ECB decision is due at 1:45 p.m. Central European time (7:45 a.m. Eastern), though analysts are focusing on the press conference with President Christine Lagarde at 2:30 p.m.

Attention also is in London, where an emergency meeting is being called on the U.K. decision to unilaterally amend its withdrawal agreement. Bloomberg News reported the European Union was considering a lawsuit.

Wm Morrison Supermarkets
MRW,
-3.51%

slumped 3.7% after reporting a 25% slump in first-half adjusted pretax profits, with the company flagging higher costs and reduced consumer demand for fuel. “Some traders will be wondering if Morrisons can’t post a rise in profit when a pandemic has driven up demand, when will they register a rise in earnings,” said David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

Chemicals group Akzo Nobel
AKZA,
+3.47%

rose 4% as the company said revenue for the third quarter will be close to last year’s levels. It reported strong decorative paint demand in Europe and South America.

Games Workshop
GAW,
+13.92%
,
which makes miniature wartime figures, jumped 13% after saying its performance for the quarter ending Aug. 30 was ahead of its expectation



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Lyft says ride-hailing service continued to recover in August


Lyft on Tuesday released updated ride-hailing numbers that show an uptick in demand for rides.


Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

Lyft Inc. said Tuesday that the ride-hailing recovery is progressing after a steep drop in demand because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lyft
LYFT,
+3.90%

said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that rides rose 7.3% in August from July (although August rides were down 53% year over year), and that in the week ended Sept. 6, it saw the highest number of rides since April. That brings its decline in rides to less than 50% year over year, the company said. In addition, Lyft said its Canadian business — its only operations outside the nation — was rebounding more quickly than its U.S. business, with weekly rides in Vancouver reaching a record high in the week ended Sept. 6.

The company also said it spent less on driver incentives in August as more drivers returned to its ride-hailing app.

Those numbers prompted the San Francisco-based company to say it now expects that its year-over-year change in revenue will outperform the change in rides in the third quarter that ends Sept. 30. Lyft also said its adjusted Ebitda loss for the third quarter will be less than $265 million, compared with an adjusted loss of $128.1 million in the same period a year ago.

See: Lyft revenue and riders fall by more than half, and California could soon be cut off

In its filing, Lyft also said it put an additional $17.5 million into the Proposition 22 campaign, the California ballot measure that aims to avoid complying with a new law that would mean classifying its drivers as employees. Instead, Lyft and larger rival Uber Technologies Inc.
UBER,
+3.24%
,
as well as other companies that rely on independent contractors, are proposing to exempt gig workers from the law.

See: The different routes Uber and Lyft could take as they fight California law

Amid another broad decline for tech stocks Tuesday, with the Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP,
-4.11%

falling 4.1%, Lyft shares rose 3.9% to $30.10, while Uber shares rose 3.3% to $34.32. Both stocks fell roughly 2% in after-hours trading following the filing.



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New China ban threat puts U.S. chip-equipment makers at forefront of tech stock rout



MARKETWATCH PHOTO ILLUSTRATION/ISTOCKPHOTO

Chip equipment makers led technology stocks lower Tuesday following reports that U.S. sanctions could spread to businesses like Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp., China’s largest chip fabricator.

Shares of KLA Corp.
KLAC,
-7.74%
,
Lam Research Corp.
LRCX,
-6.86%
,
and Applied Materials Inc. AMAT all fell more than 6% as U.S. stock markets opened on Tuesday following Labor Day holiday weekend, while the PHLX Semiconductor Index SOX was down nearly 3%.

Over the weekend, reports surfaced that SMIC could be added to a U.S. “entity list” like telecom equipment maker Huawei back in May. On Monday, when U.S. markets were closed, SMIC
981,
+3.07%

shares dropped more than 20% in Hong Kong trading.

Meanwhile, the U.S. tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP,
-2.33%

was down 2.6% and the S&P 500 index
SPX,
-1.50%

was off 1.8% Tuesday.

Investors may be worrying that SMIC is just another one of many Chinese companies to get added to the list, given President Donald Trump’s recent bellicosity toward Chinese-owned apps TikTok and WeChat .

“Will the Trump Administration stop with only Huawei and SMIC?” speculated Evercore ISI analyst C.J. Muse in a Tuesday note. “Hard to say,” he said, warning that other chip makers in China could be next. Should the potential ban be limited to SMIC, then chip-related stocks have been oversold, Muse said.

Tech stocks have been getting battered since last week, when the tech sector gave up in two sessions at least half of seven week’s worth of gains from a strong earnings season .

Morgan Stanley analyst Joseph Moore said adding SMIC to the list “certainly would be a negative impact to our semiconductor capital equipment coverage”. Moore noted that SMIC had plans of spending $6.7 billion in capital equipment this year alone.

“The bigger issue is that the China risk factor for semiconductor capital equipment continues to grow, as U.S. Commerce Department actions continue to impact new areas,” Moore said.

Susquehanna Financial analyst Mehdi Hosseini took a much less fearful view of the development, remarking that “policy has also proven a double edged sword as efforts of the past few years in isolating China have not really proven a winning strategy”.

Hosseini said “with secular trends suggesting a bright future for chip consumption and thus [semiconductor capital equipment], especially as more of the demand shifts to cloud/commercial end markets, the pull backs caused by such headline risks can also offer a buying opportunity, in our view.



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Elon Musk’s brother Kimbal made more than $8 million selling Tesla shares 2 days before he bought them


Elon Musk’s younger brother, Kimbal, appears to have made more than $8 million on Tesla’s stock this week, as he exercised options to buy the stock, two days after he sold those shares at 6.5 times the price he paid for them.

Good timing for board member Kimbal, as the sale of share was made Tuesday, with some of the sales executed above Monday’s record closing price of $498.32.

The stock
TSLA,
+2.78%

bounced sharply to close Friday up 2.8% at $418.32, reversing an earlier intraday loss of as much as 8.6%. The stock snapped a three-day losing streak, but has still tumbled 16.1% since Monday’s record close.

Weekend reads:Early warning sign for Tesla’s stock

This week’s selloff comes after a 5-for-1 stock split went into effect on Monday, and as Tesla disclosed a $5 billion stock offering and a large shareholder reduced its stake.

Don’t miss:Tesla’s stock sinks again to kick off a correction after disclosure of another large seller

On Sept. 1, Kimbal Musk sold 36,375 Tesla shares at a weighted average price of about $482.59, according to a MarketWatch calculation of data from a Form 4 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission filed late Thursday. The filing showed multiple trades made at prices ranging from about $471.33 to about $502.01.

After closing at $498.32 on Monday, the stock reached an all-time intraday high of $502.49 in the first minute of trading on Tuesday, fell to an intraday low of $470.51 around 10 a.m. Eastern, then bounced to reach $502.28 around 10:30 a.m. before closing down 4.7% at $475.05.


FactSet, MarketWatch

Then on Sept. 3, the filing showed that Kimbal Musk acquired 20,375 Tesla shares at a price of $74.17, as part of a trading plan adopted on Feb. 20, 2020.

For the 20,375 shares he sold on Sept. 1 and bought two days later, he made $8.32 million on the trades. If he were to buy back the extra 16,000 shares he sold at current prices, he could make about $1.49 million on the trades.

Meanwhile, the volume-weighed average price (VWAP) of Tesla’s stock on Sept. 3 was $412.46, according to FactSet. If Kimbal Musk had sold shares on the same day that he acquired them, as fellow board member Kathleen Wilson-Thompson did on Monday, and President of Automotive Jerome Guillen did on Tuesday, he would have made about $6.89 million on the trades, or about $1.43 million less than he did.


FactSet, MarketWatch

Kimbal Musk, who is co-founder of The Kitchen, has been on Tesla’s board of directors since April 2004. He is a member of the board’s compensation, corporate governance and disclosure controls committees. His compensation in 2019 as a Tesla board member was $20,000, in the form of a cash fee.

After this week’s trades, Kimbal Musk still owns 638,240 Tesla shares, the filings show, which at Friday’s closing price were worth about $267.99 million.

Despite the pullback, the stock has still soared 400.0% so far this year, compared with the S&P 500 index’s
SPX,
-0.81%

gain of 6.1%.

Another insider made more than $6 million from Tesla stock trades

Tesla also disclosed late Thursday trades made by insider Jerome Guillen, which made him about $6.4 million.

A Form 4 filing showed that Guillen acquired 15,000 shares at $51.64 on Sept. 1, as part of a trading plan adopted on Feb. 20. On the same day, he sold 15,000 shares at a weighted average price of about $479.00. The sale was made in a series of trades at prices ranging from $471.33 to $502.01. That’s the same range of prices that Kimbal Musk’s sales were executed.

Guillen joined Tesla in November 2010 and has been president of automotive since September 2018.



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