When it comes to the world of fitness, Peloton (NASDAQ: PTON) and Planet Fitness (NYSE: PLNT) can both be classed as leading names in the industry. The COVID-19 pandemic saw both companies take very different paths, with one benefiting greatly from the rise of stay-at-home stocks and the other suffering massively as its client base was effectively reduced to zero.
As time has worn on, the markets have reacted wildly to any inkling that further lockdown measures are coming. Peloton and Planet Fitness have both dropped and rebounded numerous times accordingly in a period of overtly high volatility.
Now, however, as the world hopes to emerge from the shadow of COVID-19 in 2022, we take a look at both of these stocks to determine which is the better investment right now
It's been a tough year for Peloton shareholders, with the company currently down over 73% year-to-date (YTD). However, it's not all doom and gloom for the exercise equipment manufacturer. Peloton maintains a growing subscription rate with management expecting 3.45 million Connected Fitness subscribers by the end of the year. Couple this with another million digital-only subscribers and that leads to extremely strong recurring revenue for the firm.
Peloton is also diversifying its offerings by expanding into new products. Rowing machines, treadmills, strength training, and apparel are all either available or on the way. This will allow the company to bring in a wider range of consumers than it could with just its flagship exercise bike.
There are still issues, however. Worryingly, customer engagement has dropped following a pandemic surge. The stay-at-home fitness space is also getting more and more competitive with companies such as Lululemon launching its Mirror product. Finally, recent earnings calls have shown weakening sales growth and conservative outlooks for the future as the company continues to navigate an unstable market.
Planet Fitness has had a relatively solid year by all accounts. The company is currently up over 16% YTD and has navigated well since the initial crash caused by the pandemic in early 2020. As of the third quarter of this year, the firm's membership levels hit 97% of its all-time high, showing that demand is still there following the rise of stay-at-home workouts. Revenue is also approaching pre-pandemic levels in what can only be termed as a remarkable recovery.
The company's discount prices - with membership only costing $10 - keep sales constantly rising, with very few members actually dropping out. People are willing to pay this insignificant amount in an act of wishful thinking, but it all adds up to significant recurring revenue for Planet Fitness.
Investors should be wary though that the COVID-induced disruption might not be over. Any new fears around the virus or any impending restrictions could send the company plummeting once again. The company might have navigated the past year in admirable fashion, but it's not too far removed from the sudden drop of over 60% witnessed in 2020.
When it comes to growth, it appears that Peloton might have the edge in terms of sheer potential. The company currently only operates in four global markets, so the scope for expansion is huge. If it can continue to develop its equipment offerings and consistently add to its subscription numbers, the firm could grow exponentially over the next few years.
However, when it comes to the best investment right now it's hard to look past Planet Fitness. While it might not have as much scope for expansion as Peloton, it has shown the clear ability to navigate the uncertainty and volatility currently plaguing the markets. It boasts strong recurring revenue, has little competition, and has shown an appetite for expansion by adding over 1,000 gyms since 2015. While it might lack the future potential of Peloton, it is undoubtedly a more solid choice right now.
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