December 1, 2021

Peloton created a cult around home fitness. Now it desperately needs a new play

Table of Contents NUMBER OF THE DAY: $27 BILLIONOK RODGE Peloton investors might need to…

Peloton investors might need to sign up for a meditation class after shares continued hemorrhaging for a third straight session Monday.

Why? Thursday’s earnings report landed with a thud, and investors are worried that the company can’t sustain its brisk pandemic-era pace. Sales of Peloton’s stationary bikes and treadmills, which makes up 60% of its business, fell 17% in the most recent quarter. Revenue growth came in below analysts’ expectations.

“We underestimated the reopening impact on our company and the overall industry,” Chief Financial Officer Jill Woodworth said in a call with analysts.

THE END OF THE CRAZE?

The fitness company was one of the first to emerge in the spring of 2020 as a clear beneficiary of the pandemic’s disruption of consumer behavior. More or less overnight, gyms shut down and Peloton’s sleek stationary bikes — which allowed people to replicate the big sweaty group workout experience in the safety of their homes — became the must-have fitness accessory of the pandemic era.

Peloton’s congregation grew as closures dragged on longer than anyone expected. Sure, a $2,000 stationary bike seemed steep, but now that you weren’t going out, or traveling, or paying for the gym every month, it kinda made sense, right? And surely, if we just pedaled hard enough, we could push through our existential dread and pandemic-induced depression and emerge (sometime, whenever it’s safe, maybe next year, maybe never) with a new lease on life and slammin’ quads.

(Kinda reminds me of how Nordic Track bamboozled 90s parents into thinking they could glide their way into looking like Cindy Crawford… That thing did make for a useful laundry-drying rack though.)

Anyway, with vaccines on the rise, folks appear to be heading back to the gym, and that’s bad news for home fitness companies. Peloton shares are down more than 60% this year. Planet Fitness, meanwhile, shot up 12% Thursday after reporting a strong earnings report and revealing that its membership levels nearly returned to its pre-pandemic peak. Its stock is up 23% for the year.

NUMBER OF THE DAY: $27 BILLION

Tesla shares fell nearly 5% Monday after yet another truly bizarre, head-scratchy series of tweets from CEO Elon Musk over the weekend. Musk polled his 63 million followers to ask whether he should sell 10% of his Tesla stake, valued at around $27 billion on Monday. The votes are in, and the ayes have it. But it’s pretty clear Musk was already planning to sell a big chunk of his shares anyway — he has nearly 23 million stock options that have vested and expire in August. In other words, he’s got to use ’em or lose ’em. The whole thing leaves us once again wondering what the heck this guy’s whole Thing is.

OK RODGE

Aaron Rodgers, the guy who almost became the host of Jeopardy! and who also plays sports, is right: We, the media, are on a witch hunt, plotting to “cancel” him for doing his own “research.”

Phase One of the Rodgers Resistance is under way. One of his sponsors, State Farm, drastically reduced the number of ads featuring the QB on TV this Sunday, according to data from Apex Marketing, which tracks national ad buying. And Prevea Health, a Wisconsin company, ended its partnership with Rodgers over the weekend.

ICYMI: Rodgers tested positive for Covid-19 last week, after previously telling reporters he’d been “immunized,” which turned out not to be true in any medically accepted sense.

Rodgers went on the Pat McAfee Show on Friday to try to clear the air. But instead echoed a bunch of unscientific misinformation about vaccines and about Covid-19. For example:

  • Rodgers said he’s following a “homeopathic” treatment recommended by his friend and expert virologist trolling conspiracist Joe Rogan.
  • Part of that homeopathic treatment includes ivermectin, a deworming agent used in livestock that is so dangerous the FDA has pleaded with people not to use it.
  • He said he did not get vaccinated because he has an allergy to an ingredient in the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, and was scared about the possible side effects from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine — even though the J&J shot has been cleared by federal health officials after being briefly shelved for remote blood clot concerns.
  • He also cited widely debunked fertility concerns with the vaccines. “There’s never been any vaccine that’s been linked with infertility,” says Dr. Richard Beigi, an expert on immunization and public health at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

MY TWO CENTS

Rodgers, a massively influential athlete who makes more $10 million a year, lied about his vaccine status, and now he’s fuming that people are calling him a liar. “I realize I’m in the crosshairs of the woke mob right now,” Rodgers said Friday. First of all, we prefer woke gaggle.

Second of all: This has nothing to do with “wokeness” and everything to do with concealing the truth about a deadly illness that put his teammates and any number of Green Bay staff — not all of whom have millions of dollars for top-shelf health care — at risk.

I’ve never in my life uttered anything resembling sympathy for Tom Brady, but seriously, NFL? Brady got a four-game suspension for possibly being aware of some air being let out of footballs. Meanwhile the league has said only that it’s reviewing the situation.

And State Farm, while cutting his ad time, said it respects “his right to have his own personal point of view.”

Come on. This isn’t a political opinion or a cultural critique — this is flat-out misinformation, and until Aaron Rodgers produces his medical degree or the results of his own independent, peer-reviewed double-blind study showing the efficacy of his homeopathic regimen, I’ll be over here listening to actual scientists. And watching the actual best QB in the league, Patrick Mahomes. Fight me.

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https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/09/business/peloton-stock-elon-musk-aaron-rodgers-nightcap/index.html