May 6, 2021 - Economy & Business

Why Peloton's value has plummeted

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Peloton has lost more than half its value since its mid-January high, when it was valued at $60 billion — and it's still trading at more than double its pre-pandemic high.

Why it matters: Most of the recent decline is a function of the economy reopening faster than expected, leaving people with much less desire to spend thousands of dollars on at-home exercise. But a lot of the drop is also self-inflicted.

Flashback: In mid-March, Peloton pushed back against the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which had recommended that consumers stop using its treadmill. CEO John Foley wrote:

We have fully cooperated with CPSC and responded to all of their requests, with one exception: we resisted their demands for personally identifiable information of certain Members because those Members had specifically requested that we not provide that information...You may also have read news reports suggesting that CPSC believes that we should stop selling or recall the Tread+. I want to assure you that we have no intention of doing so.

Driving the news: We now know that while Peloton was supposedly protecting the personal information of its members, its website allowed anybody to access Peloton users' age, gender, city, weight, and workout statistics.

  • Peloton has also changed its mind on its treadmill, and now says the machine should not be used and should instead be returned — any time between now and November 2022 — for a full refund.
  • Many of the treadmills were financed by Affirm, which effectively bought them from Peloton at a significant discount to the retail price. So Peloton will be paying more to buy back those machines than it originally received.

The bottom line: Peloton likes to think of itself as a subscription media company, rather than as a hardware manufacturer. Subscription media companies, however, don't generally have to worry about one child dying in a treadmill accident, alongside another "29 reports of injuries to children that resulted in serious abrasions, broken bones, and lacerations."

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