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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Asian stock markets gain following tech bounce, euro waits for ECB By Reuters


© Reuters. People wearing protective masks, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, are reflected on a screen showing stock prices outside a brokerage in Tokyo

By Tom Westbrook and Jessica DiNapoli

SINGAPORE/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Asia’s stock markets snapped their longest losing streak since February on Thursday and rose following a bounce on Wall Street, though subdued trade in currency, commodity and bond markets suggested investors remain cautious about the outlook.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan () gained half a percent, lifting away from a one-month low made on Wednesday.

Japan’s Nikkei () rose 0.5% and markets in Shanghai () and Hong Kong () opened higher. But pressure returned to the oil price on worries about soft demand, a harbinger of weaker global growth. [O/R]

An overnight rally in riskier currencies also paused, as foreign exchange traders look for the European Central Bank’s tone at its meeting later on Thursday to guide the next move for the euro, dollar and the broader market. [FRX/]

S&P 500 futures () and Nasdaq 100 futures () each fell 0.4% in Asia.

Indonesia’s main stock index () dropped 4% to its lowest in more than a month on news the country’s capital Jakarta will reinstate social distancing restrictions due to a rise in coronavirus infections.

“The price action suggests that strong buying interest remains on market corrections given the backdrop of ample central bank liquidity,” economists Liz Kendall and Brian Martin at ANZ Bank said in a note.

“However, with some volatility having returned to markets it’s too soon to say whether the rout is over, or whether last night’s recovery is simply a pause,” the added.

Overnight on Wall Street the tech-heavy Nasdaq () posted its steepest rise in more than four months, gaining 2.7%, to halt a three-session selldown that whacked tech stocks. ()

Stay-at-home companies such as Facebook Inc (O:) and Google-parent Alphabet Inc (O:) climbed, while electric-car maker Tesla Inc (O:) rebounded nearly 11%, a day after suffering its biggest ever percentage drop.

The Dow () rose 1.6% and the S&P 500 () 2% and bonds sold off in concert with the rally. The yield on benchmark 10-year U.S. government debt () rose about 2 basis points to 0.71% overnight, with soft demand at a $35 billion auction.

That retraced a little bit to sit at 0.6951% in Asia. [US/]

MARKET DISLOCATION

The rebound in equities has steadied a sharp selloff that has highlighted the fragility of a rally that has carried the Nasdaq up 70% from March lows.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” said Oriano Lizza, sales trader at CMC Markets in Singapore, as retail investors who had great success on the way up now facing a tougher environment.”

“This is where there’s a lot of trepidation,” he said. “The market structure is dislocated at the moment… with stimulus and (markets at) all time highs – there’s no reference point.”

The ECB policy decision at 1145 GMT, followed by a news conference from President Christine Lagarde at 1230 GMT, is the next focus for investors.

Earlier in the week worries that the bank is concerned at the euro’s recent rise had the euro under pressure.

However, hopes for an improving economic outlook, following a Bloomberg News report that ECB economic projections would be broadly steady since June, had the euro () on the front foot in Asia at $1.1817.

“The risk now is that the euro could lift after the ECB meeting, if that is the case and there is more confidence,” said Commonwealth Bank of Australia (OTC:) currency analyst Kim Mundy, something that would pull other currencies higher on the dollar.

Elsewhere oil prices paring some overnight gains on worries about fuel demand after data showed U.S. crude stockpiles rose last week, rather than dropping as expected.

Brent crude futures () fell 0.4% to $40.63 a barrel and U.S. crude futures () fell 0.6% to $37.82 a barrel. Gold was steady at $1,943 an ounce. [GOL/]

GRAPHIC: Asian stock markets https://product.datastream.com/dscharting/gateway.aspx?guid=516bc8cb-b44e-4346-bce3-06590d8e396b&action=REFRESH





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AstraZeneca stock falls as drugmaker pauses vaccine trial after volunteer’s ‘unexplained illness’


Shares in AstraZeneca fell on Wednesday after the drugmaker said it has paused late-stage trials of its coronavairus vaccine candidate following an unexplained illness in one of the trials’ volunteers.

AstraZeneca
AZN,
-1.07%

said it was a “routine action” and that unexplained illnesses can happen “by chance” in large trial and must be independently reviewed.

In an emailed statement, AstraZeneca said: “As part of the ongoing randomised, controlled global trials of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine, our standard review process was triggered and we voluntarily paused vaccination to allow review of safety data by an independent committee.”

It added that it is working to expedite the review of the single event to minimize any potential impact on the trial timeline. “We are committed to the safety of our participants and the highest standards of conduct in our trials.”

A report in the New York Times said that the volunteer in the U.K. trial received a diagnosis of transverse myelitis, an inflammatory syndrome that affects the spinal cord. “However, the timing of this diagnosis, and whether it was directly linked to AstraZeneca’s vaccine, is still unknown,” the NY Times said. The British drugmaker declined to the comment on the location and the diagnosis.

Shares in AstraZeneca
AZN,
+2.10%
,
which fell 6% in New York in after-hours trading on Tuesday after STAT first reported that the trial had to be stopped, were down 1% in early European trading.

Analysts at Citigroup said the risk of a serious adverse event (SAE), potentially vaccine-related, was always “a high probability event” in one of the multiple large Covid-19 trials.

“We have limited information on the single SAE aside from it occurred in the UK trial and the patient is expected to recover albeit almost certainty currently hospitalised,” the analysts wrote in a research note on Wednesday.

“[Tuesday’s] development may negatively impact timelines for other Covid-19 vaccine sponsors. While AZN’s current share price is discounting little economic value from Covid-19, we expect an initial negative stock and broader market reaction today in response to the news,” the analysts added. But they cautioned that they are “hesitant” to draw any conclusions in the absence of further information.

Analysts at Jefferies said they envisage a short-term stock correction “which may prove misplaced”.

On Tuesday the CEOs of nine companies, including AstraZeneca, BioNTech
BNTX,
+2.15%
,
Johnson & Johnson
JNJ,
-0.89%
,
Moderna
MRNA,
-13.19%

and Novovax
NVAX,
-8.20%

made a joint pledge to “stand with science” on coronavirus vaccines, making clear that they would not move forward with such products before demonstrating their safety and efficacy.

AstraZeneca’s halts covers studies in the U.S. and other countries and could derail the plans of President Donald Trump, who reportedly hopes to fast-track approval of the vaccine in a bid to make it available to Americans before November’s election.

The news comes just two days after Britain’s health secretary Matt Hancock said the vaccine, which is being developed in collaboration with the University of Oxford, would “most likely” be available in the first few months of 2021.

Read: AstraZeneca vaccine ‘most likely’ to roll out in the U.K. early next year

On Wednesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce new measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus after a sharp rise in daily coronavirus cases in the country.

Since Sunday, there have been 8,396 new cases reported – with 2,460 reported on Tuesday alone, according to government data. There were also 32 deaths reported, though these will not relate to the most recent rise in cases.

The new rules will include banning social gatherings of more than six people in England from Sept. 14. The new rule applies to private homes, indoors and outdoors, and places such as bars and cafes, but will not apply to schools and workplaces.

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said, it was only a matter of time before a setback like this were to happen, given the complexities of trying to get a vaccine to a virus that is still very new.

“We already know from the number of flu vaccines that an immunization program is not a magic bullet, and with the UK looking to re-tighten social gathering restrictions from the beginning of next week, investors will have to come to terms with the idea that the path out of the current crisis is likely to be choppy and much more prolonged than previously thought,” Hewson said.

Read:U.K. signs deals with BioNTech, Pfizer, and Valneva for COVID-19 vaccines

The U.K. has placed orders for six experimental vaccines, taking its potential stockpile to 340 million doses. In August, the government announced in August that it will buy 90 million doses of potential Covid-19 vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and U.S. drug developer Novavax.



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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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This analysis of Wall Street stock ratings is sounding a warning for Tesla and 62 other stocks


In the financial media, “Wall Street” typically means U.S. brokerage firms and often the analysts who work for them. They are known as “sell-side analysts.” They work independently of the firms’ sales teams, but there’s no question that Wall Street’s job is to sell stocks. So when you see a high level of “sell” ratings on a stock, take heed.

Tesla Inc.
TSLA,
+2.78%

is the poster child for high-flying stocks during this pandemic year. The electric-car company’s shares are up 435% this year and 891% in the past 12 months. And as the shares have shot up, many analysts have continually increased their price targets.

But not all of them have kept doing so. And now, among 37 sell-side analysts polled by FactSet, eight rate the shares the equivalent of a “buy,” while 11 rate them the equivalent of a “sell.” The shares closed at $447.37 on Sept. 2. The consensus price target among those analysts is $284.97, implying 36% downside for the shares.

Tesla is not yet included in the benchmark S&P 500 Index
SPX,
-0.81%
,
although it is expected to be added soon. It is rare for any S&P 500 stock to have majority “sell” ratings, and none do at this time. But a quick look shows 33 stocks with “sell” ratings outweighing “buy” ratings.

Expanding to the Russell 1000 Index
RUI,
-0.85%

of the largest 1,000 publicly traded companies listed in the U.S. by market capitalization (including Tesla and subject to changes when stocks plunge), there are four companies with majority “sell” ratings.

Among the Russell 1000, there are 63 companies with “sell” ratings outweighing “buy” ratings. Here they are, sorted by market capitalization:

Company

Ticker

Share ‘buy’ ratings

Share ‘sell’ ratings

Market cap. ($ millions)

Total return – 2020 through Sept. 2

Tesla Inc.

TSLA,
+2.78%
22%

30%

416,863

435%

Exxon Mobil Corp.

XOM,
-0.07%
12%

20%

165,704

-41%

Illinois Tool Works Inc.

ITW,
-0.37%
13%

22%

63,849

14%

Public Storage

PSA,
-0.37%
13%

27%

37,436

3%

Southern Copper Corp.

SCCO,
+0.81%
15%

54%

37,092

16%

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.

WBA,
-0.53%
5%

9%

32,209

-35%

WEC Energy Group Inc.

WEC,
+0.13%
15%

38%

30,726

8%

Paychex Inc.

PAYX,
-0.36%
10%

19%

27,988

-6%

Hormel Foods Corp.

HRL,
+0.17%
8%

23%

27,698

15%

ResMed Inc.

RMD,
-2.41%
22%

33%

26,517

19%

McCormick & Co. Inc.

MKC,
-1.05%
17%

33%

26,001

25%

Brown-Forman Corp. Class B

BF.B,
+0.97%
6%

33%

24,715

19%

Consolidated Edison Inc.

ED,
+0.88%
6%

35%

24,161

-18%

Mettler-Toledo International Inc.

MTD,
-1.42%
0%

25%

24,095

27%

Equity Residential

EQR,
+1.23%
21%

26%

21,473

-27%

Expeditors International of Washington Inc.

EXPD,
-0.84%
7%

36%

15,218

17%

Avangrid Inc.

AGR,
+0.55%
9%

36%

14,968

-3%

Tiffany & Co.

TIF,
-0.31%
0%

7%

14,854

-8%

J.M. Smucker Co.

SJM,
-0.56%
6%

17%

13,786

19%

FactSet Research Systems Inc.

FDS,
-1.97%
0%

44%

13,452

33%

Waters Corp.

WAT,
-1.39%
0%

38%

13,442

-7%

C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc.

CHRW,
+0.29%
18%

23%

13,438

29%

Jack Henry & Associates Inc.

JKHY,
-1.52%
10%

20%

13,113

18%

Cognex Corp.

CGNX,
-5.22%
22%

28%

12,376

28%

Brown-Forman Corp. Class A

BF.A,
+0.31%
6%

35%

12,170

15%

CenturyLink Inc.

CTL,
-0.09%
13%

44%

11,985

-11%

Ubiquiti Inc.

UI,
+0.13%
25%

75%

11,942

0%

Omnicom Group Inc

OMC,
-0.38%
25%

33%

11,588

-32%

Occidental Petroleum Corp.

OXY,
-2.70%
12%

19%

11,534

-68%

Lennox International Inc.

LII,
-0.42%
12%

29%

11,009

19%

Franklin Resources Inc.

BEN,
-1.02%
0%

43%

10,784

-14%

Carnival Corp.

CCL,
+5.40%
5%

20%

10,037

-67%

Western Union Co.

WU,
-0.86%
10%

29%

9,852

-9%

Allegion PLC

ALLE,
-0.74%
0%

9%

9,666

-15%

CNA Financial Corp.

CNA,
-0.34%
0%

25%

8,766

-22%

Watsco Inc.

WSO,
-0.95%
11%

22%

8,161

42%

Beyond Meat Inc.

BYND,
-3.06%
22%

30%

8,099

72%

Gap Inc.

GPS,
-0.90%
13%

17%

6,870

5%

Vornado Realty Trust

VNO,
+1.46%
15%

23%

6,830

-44%

Credit Acceptance Corp.

CACC,
+0.42%
0%

33%

6,807

-13%

American Airlines Group Inc.

AAL,
+1.87%
20%

45%

6,728

-54%

Grubhub Inc.

GRUB,
-0.77%
0%

4%

6,629

48%

Commerce Bancshares Inc.

CBSH,
+1.86%
0%

40%

6,599

-12%

Continental Resources Inc.

CLR,
-1.81%
10%

16%

5,992

-52%

Comerica Inc.

CMA,
+2.54%
19%

23%

5,587

-42%

Invesco Ltd.

IVZ,
+2.24%
11%

28%

4,881

-38%

Cullen/Frost Bankers Inc.

CFR,
+2.79%
20%

47%

4,403

-26%

Rayonier Inc.

RYN,
-2.17%
14%

29%

4,109

-6%

Xerox Holdings Corp.

XRX,
+1.52%
13%

25%

3,992

-48%

Unum Group

UNM,
+8.21%
9%

18%

3,802

-33%

Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc.

HE,
+0.20%
0%

67%

3,750

-25%

Antero Midstream Corp.

AM,
-1.63%
11%

22%

2,979

-2%

Brighthouse Financial Inc.

BHF,
+6.15%
9%

27%

2,865

-21%

Teradata Corp.

TDC,
-0.70%
14%

21%

2,611

-11%

Mercury General Corp.

MCY,
+0.17%
0%

50%

2,526

-3%

Trinity Industries Inc.

TRN,
+1.79%
17%

33%

2,469

-3%

Nordstrom Inc.

JWN,
+2.77%
14%

18%

2,448

-61%

Taubman Centers Inc.

TCO,
+1.24%
0%

11%

2,357

25%

Park Hotels & Resorts Inc.

PK,
+6.64%
7%

36%

2,300

-60%

Sabre Corp.

SABR,
+2.98%
22%

33%

2,253

-67%

First Hawaiian Inc.

FHB,
+1.12%
25%

50%

2,133

-41%

Associated Banc-Corp

ASB,
+2.79%
0%

10%

2,096

-36%

Chesapeake Energy Corp.

CHKAQ,
+2.36%
0%

100%

46

-97%

Source: FactSet



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