Written by: Sophie Lund-Yates | Hargreaves Lansdown
- Stocks that surged in popularity during lockdown – where they are now?
- Can Zoom stomach a spending spree?
- Peloton – how far until the (cycle) path to profitability?
- How will Netflix fare against Disney +?
It’s hard to knock Zoom’s progress. During the pandemic, Zoom’s annual revenues shot up over 300%. Operating profits came along for the ride too, rising rapidly from £88.7m to £983.3m. That’s partly because of Zoom’s main attraction – its Software as a Service model, or SaaS. That meant despite its exponential revenue growth, margins more than doubled, and are still sitting around the 30% mark. Adding a new subscription to a SaaS platform like Zoom costs next to nothing.
Margins are expected to dip though because the group needs to spend heavily to keep hold of market share. There’s plenty of competition in the space, like Microsoft Teams.
There’s another red flag. Billings are expected to fall year-on-year, which is a negative development. The very appeal of subscription-based operating models is that revenue should be sticky.
The group’s returning $1bn to shareholders via a share buyback. This shows management believe the stock is undervalued. At this critical time, money should be pumped back into the business to propel growth, but it does mean investors are being rewarded for their patience.
The fact is, we live in a world where Zoom has become part of the everyday. But maintaining its competitive edge is far from guaranteed – just ask Skype.”
“Peloton provided a solution for those mourning the closure of gyms and exercise classes during lockdown. Slick marketing and a strong fanbase meant the group did exceptionally well. Part of the group’s appeal was that it didn’t just offer the infamous Peloton bike. It also offered users an immersive – and very lucrative – subscription to classes. Peloton’s revenue during the pandemic more than doubled to $4.0bn.
But Peloton is having to pedal very hard. Along with those extra sales came huge hikes in costs. Research and development spending more than tripled to $210.7m last year.
All-in-all, that means the group doesn’t currently generate any profit and is heavily loss making. A pattern that’s expected to continue for now, despite revenue climbing. Conditions are unlikely to ever be as supportive as they were during the pandemic, so if turning a profit now is a challenge, when will it happen?
The so called ‘basic’ Peloton bike starts at £1,550, as household budgets around the world, including in the US which accounts for 93% of Peloton’s revenue, feel the pinch, new gym equipment loses its appeal.
Peloton could stand to benefit from a long-term shift in demand for at-home workouts. For now, all eyes are on proof of the group’s path to profitability.”
“Netflix pulled in an unfathomable number of subscribers over the pandemic, with 37m new additions over 2020. Of course, on one hand, the acceleration of streaming culture is a good thing for the company that had a hand inventing it. But the reality is this huge acceleration of growth caused two problems for Netflix.
The first was we all burned through content much faster than planned. Bet none of us were thinking about the headaches we were causing Netflix HQ when we all sat down and binged through Tiger King in a day. Together with expensive production sites being shut down, meant in the year after everything opened up, the group’s already hefty content bill shot up 18% to $14bn.
The second is that growth was simply pulled forwards. If you didn’t get a Netflix subscription when confined to your sofa, chances are you never will. The market didn’t respond to very well at all to slower subscriber growth forecasts. This is a particularly sensitive topic because of rising competition. The likes of Disney+ are poised to take market share.