By Michelle Chapman
Peloton's uphill struggle to generate sales as more people break from health routines forced during the pandemic continued in the third quarter and the company's revenue outlook sent shares tumbling 17% at the opening bell.
The maker of high-end exercise bikes and treadmills thrived during COVID-19 outbreaks and sales growth for the New York City company doubled in 2020 and surged 120% in its last fiscal year.
The availability of vaccines and easing of COVID-19 restrictions, however, have opened up more workout options and Peloton has suffered. In February the company announced a major restructuring and abandoned plans to open its first U.S. factory, which would have employed 2,000 workers in Ohio. Co-founder John Foley stepped down as CEO and the company said it would cut nearly 3,000 jobs.
The latest data Tuesday raised more questions about how the company will move forward.
“After a couple of years of adoration, Peloton now finds itself in the unenviable position of having to justify its business model is both relevant and operationally sound in a post-pandemic era, said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData. “Quite frankly, the jury is still out on both counts – but today’s results do nothing to make investors lean towards a favorable verdict,”
On Tuesday the company announced a binding commitment letter with JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs to borrow $750 million, but new CEO Barry McCarthy said in a letter to shareholders that Peloton ended the quarter with $879 million in cash, “which leaves us thinly capitalized for a business of our scale.”
Peloton ramped up fast during the pandemic, increasing its subscriber base from 700,000 to 3 million, but that growth has slowed, leaving the company loaded up with a substantial inventory of unsold bikes and treadmills.
McCarthy said the company has to rethink its capital structure at the same time that it pushes to expand its subscriber base to 100 million.
“Turnarounds are hard work,” McCarthy said in a letter to shareholders. “It’s intellectually challenging, emotionally draining, physically exhausting, and all consuming. It’s a full contact sport.”
McCarthy's letter to shareholders emphasized again the company's push to focus more on software, than on the hardware of bikes and treadmills.
That, according to UBS analyst Arpiné Kocharyan, would mean paying more to land customers compared with focusing on selling stationary bikes. After a cash flow burn of $747 million in the most recent quarter, Kocharyan believes that will lead to heightened concern about the cash Peloton has to work with.
Peloton Interactive Inc. lost $757.1 million, or $2.27 per share, for the three months ended March 31. Stripping out non-recurring items, it lost 98 cents per share, outpacing projections of a per-share loss of 85 cents, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research.
The loss was far greater than last year when Peloton was $8.6 million in the red.
Revenue slid 15% to $964.3 million, which was also short of analyst projections.
Peloton said it's looking at revenue this quarter to come in between $675 million and $700 million. That too soured investors in early trading. Industry analysts had been projecting fourth-quarter revenue of $820.3 million, according to FactSet.
Shares which have already fallen more than 60% this year, lost another $2.47 at the opening bell to sink to $11.66. At their peak, shares of Peloton cost as much as $171.