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Is This Gym Stock the Peloton Killer?

At-home exercise stocks like Peloton (NASDAQ: PTON) and Nautilus soared in 2020 with people stuck inside trying to find ways to work out during the depths of the pandemic. This came at the obvious expense of traditional brick-and-mortar gym operators, an industry decimated by the economic turmoil last year.

Planet Fitness (NYSE: PLNT) was the main victim of the at-home fitness trend, but its most recent quarter's results paint a positive picture. For this large and fast-growing fitness-center franchisor and operator, the turnaround seems underway.

Does this spell doom for Peloton?

Image source: Getty Images.

Time to get in shape

Planet Fitness has come a long way since its locations were forced to temporarily close as the pandemic spread in 2020. In the most recent quarter (Q2 2021), revenue skyrocketed 241% and totaled $137 million. This was the first time since the fourth quarter of 2019 that Planet Fitness registered quarterly sales growth year over year, a possible sign that the business has put the health crisis in its rearview mirror.

Net income went from a $32 million loss in the year-ago period to a $15 million profit in the most recent quarter. Key to this is the growing comfort of consumers to visit gyms again. June was the sixth straight month that Planet Fitness added members, of which it now counts more than 15 million.

Management recently noted that no matter how dire things were, a total of zero Planet Fitness locations closed permanently due to the financial impact of the pandemic. The situation for the overall industry is not so pretty, however. According to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, 9,000 gyms, or 22% of the U.S. total, shut their doors for good as a result of the coronavirus. It appears as though Planet Fitness bolstered its competitive positioning while the rest of the industry dwindled.

As of June 30, the company had 2,170 total locations, and management firmly believes that this number can reach 4,000 domestically. In fact, this could understate the opportunity now that the health crisis significantly altered the landscape for fitness centers. "So, we were always -- already thinking that the 4,000 might be on the lower side of what the potential is now coming out of COVID," CEO Chris Rondeau highlighted on the Q2 earnings call.

Management is forecasting full-year revenue and adjusted net income per share to be $535 million and $0.68 at the midpoint, respectively, which would be a considerable improvement from 2020's numbers. As long as net membership gains continue and there aren't any more devastating pandemic-related disturbances, expect the strong momentum to carry on.

Don't worry, Peloton

The reopening of the economy and subsequent success of Planet Fitness shouldn't worry Peloton shareholders for two very important reasons.

First of all, being a member at Planet Fitness doesn't ban you from being a customer of Peloton's. In fact, roughly 40% of Peloton users have a gym membership. It's not mutually exclusive, which benefits both businesses. People can do whichever exercise they feel like doing, as each can complement the other to provide a complete workout offering.

Secondly, the two companies target different types of customers. Planet Fitness attracts the first-time gym-goer. This is someone who may not be familiar with exercise in general, but who knows that they want to improve their overall wellbeing. A membership plan that starts at $10 a month lowers the barriers to entry for a customer.

On the other hand, Peloton could naturally appeal to those who are avid cyclers or even those who are at a more advanced level on their fitness journey, especially since the cheapest option (the Bike) sets you back $1,895. Additionally, the majority of Peloton's customers come from households making greater than $100,000 per year.

Peloton's business was doing just fine before 2020, and the at-home fitness craze still has a long way to go. Although Planet Fitness is back in expansion mode, it's not going to slow down the connected-fitness pioneer.

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Neil Patel has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Peloton Interactive and Planet Fitness. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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