Peloton's value drops $9 billion as Wall Street predicts tough road ahead

(Reuters) – Peloton Interactive Inc shares slumped 33% on Friday, wiping off about $9 billion in market value as analysts predicted a tough path ahead for the pandemic-darling amid a return by economies to normalcy. 

  At least 15 analysts lowered their price target on the Peloton stock after the company cut its annual sales forecast by up to $1 billion on Thursday, as it reported its slowest quarterly sales growth in over a year. 

  Wedbush analyst James Hardiman, who is rated five star by Refinitiv, dubbed Peloton's "fall from grace" in such a short period of time as "fairly astonishing". 

  Peloton's near-term sales visibility is clouded by slowing traffic online, a mix shift to the lower priced Bike, and slower adoption of Tread, another highly rated analyst Dana Telsey of Telsey Advisory Group said in a note. 

  Telsey cut her rating on the stock to 'market perform' from 'outperform', but remained positive about its long-term prospects, as did some other brokerages. 

  Credit Suisse analyst Kaumil Gajrawala said Peloton's connected fitness opportunity could still be intact, but the path to get there appears "more difficult". 

  However, with gyms seemingly back in favor, Gajrawala said Peloton now needs to consider a different strategy as gyms are now ready to compete and are planning to offer digital content. 

  In a bid to tackle falling sales, the New York-based company outlined plans to boost marketing spend. BMO's Simeon Siegel, however, wondered if that would be enough. 

  "There are plenty of new entrants fighting for mind and market share and that suggests that increasing marketing dollars will likely prove necessary, but hardly sufficient," Siegel said. 

  The home fitness leader's shares were down 33% in early trade. They have lost 43% this year. 

  (Reporting by Tapanjana Rudra and Abhijith Ganapavaram in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber) 

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