U.S. Markets closed

Roku Has Worst Day in Months as Fear of Competition Looms Again

Ryan Vlastelica
1 / 2

Roku Has Worst Day in Months as Fear of Competition Looms Again

(Bloomberg) -- Roku Inc. shares suffered their second double-digit percentage drop of the past three trading days on Friday, as concerns over competition once again pressured a stock that has quadrupled since December.

Shares of the the video-streaming platform company sank as much as 18% in midday trading, its biggest one-day percentage loss since November, dropping on volume that already eclipsed its daily average volume over the past three months. The stock was trading at a six-week low, and on track for a weekly drop of more than 25%.

With the decline, Roku has lost about 35% of its value since a record close hit earlier this month. Even with the drop, however, shares remain up more than 300% from a December low as investors see the company as a major beneficiary to a shift toward streaming video.

Friday’s decline was sparked after Pivotal Research Group started coverage on Roku shares with a sell rating and Street-low price target of $60, a target that represents downside of more than 55% from the company’s Thursday close.

Analyst Jeffrey Wlodarczak wrote that shares were “dramatically overvalued” after the 2019 rally, and that he sees “dramatically more competition emerging.”

Pivotal’s comments spoke to an issue that also weighed on Roku on Wednesday, after Facebook Inc. debuted a new model of its Portal video device that will have access to some streaming services, and Comcast Corp. said its Xfinity Flex box would be included with Internet-only subscriptions.

Wlodarczak sees such developments as a harbinger of things to come. He anticipates “dramatically more competition,” including from “big boys” like Comcast, whose plan “will inevitably be copied by other distributors”, and “likely drive the cost of [over-the-top video-streaming] devices to zero.”

These rivals have “massive leverage,” he wrote, and are likely to make growth “much more difficult.”

This bearish view is a minority opinion. Pivotal is only the second firm to recommend selling Roku shares, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, compared with the stock’s nine buy ratings and the five firms with a neutral view on the stock.

As occurred following the week’s previous drop, Roku bulls defended the name as shares declined. Needham analyst Laura Martin called it “the gold-standard pure play” of video streaming, one that was “underscored by flawless (our word) execution” and a continually expanding total addressable market.

The firm reiterated its buy rating and $150 price target in a note to clients. “Even if Roku’s hardware sales went to zero TOMORROW,” the financial downside “would be minimal” as it accounts for just 5% of its gross profit, Martin wrote (emphasis in original).

Separately, Oppenheimer on Friday affirmed its outperform rating despite the “pending SVOD war,” referring to streaming video on demand. “Roku’s U.S. strategy play-book should allow fast international market share,” the firm wrote. “Many new services are playing catch-up in a crowded market, with limited scaled platforms to add [subscribers].”

The firm raised its price target to $155 from $120, and was at least the second firm this week to boost its view on Roku’s international potential, following a similar move from Guggenheim on Wednesday.

Currently, analysts expect full-year revenue growth of about 48% for 2019, and 36% growth in 2020, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. According to a Bloomberg MODL forecast, Roku is expected to have about 36.2 million active accounts at the end of 2019.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ryan Vlastelica in New York at rvlastelica1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Catherine Larkin at clarkin4@bloomberg.net, Steven Fromm, Morwenna Coniam

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.