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Why Buying Sonos After the Dip Is Not a Leap of Faith By Any Measure

Chris Lau

Audio tech maker Sonos, Inc. (NASDAQ:SONO) is having a hard time reversing the strong downtrend in its stock price. And if the CFO retirement and the second-quarter warning weigh any more on its stock, its market capitalization may fall below the $1 billion level. Despite the premium speaker supplier differentiating itself from other brands, cheaper smart speakers from Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) or Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) might prolong the glut of Sonos speakers on the market. Investors are looking for bullish reasons to hold SONO stock?

Why Buying Sonos After the Dip Is Not a Leap of Faith By Any Measure

Sonos continues to develop consumer interest in its brand. First quarter results showed it can drive sustainable, profitable growth. Revenue grew 6% over last year to $496 million while EBITDA came in at $87 million, up 34%. It now has eight million homes using the speaker product. Each share of SONO stock earned 55 cents diluted, up from 26 cents last year.

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The balance sheet is healthy because the firm ended the quarter with $307.4 million in cash, compared to $31.4 billion in long-term debt.

New product launches helped drive revenue in the period. It recently launched Sonos Beam, lifting home theater revenue by 42% Y/Y. With that strong initial pace, investors should expect this segment of the market lifting overall results for the full year. Unfortunately, European consumers haven’t yet embraced voice assistant products, with the smart speaker still in its infancy but management it’s only a matter of time. Sonos also restrained itself from spending more on sales and marketing. But with a bigger ad budget for the region, Q2 results may not come in as weak as management guided.

Disappointing Forecasts

A reduced sell-through in Q1 raised Sonos’ channel inventory enough to cause management to warn on Q2 results. A delayed production schedule with IKEA, pushed into Q3 instead of Q2, is putting pressure on EBITDA growth for the full year. Sonos forecasts revenue growing 10-12% and in the range of $1.25 billion-$1.275 billion. Adjusted EBITDA growth will be in the range of 20-27%.


Investors turned sour on SONO stock because the seasonal Q1 strength, helped by the holiday period, follows with a typically slower period. Then, add in the uncertainties for European customers not yet ready to buy a Sonos product, the retirement of CFO Michael Giannetto, and the revised IKEA product launch. It might seem as if these issues appear temporary but management did not rule out a slowdown in some channels in the U.S. continuing into the current second quarter.

New Product Intros

In addition to the new products introduced last quarter, Sonos could add more speakers and headphones to its product catalog to drive slowing sales. Management has a less risky plan. On the quarterly conference call, they said it could apply its expertise in wireless by further developing cloud connectivity and services. If it were to enter new markets like earphones, it would have to bring some feature that differentiated SONO from the competition.

Shareholders should welcome this approach. Too often, companies run with new product introductions only to end up with higher costs and with products that are low margin because they do not add anything new to the mix. Fitbit (NYSE:FIT) and GoPro (NASDAQ:GPRO) are just two examples. Fitbit is now competing with smartwatches while GoPro’s video camera competes with the smartphone video capture and video cameras themselves.

Valuation on SONO Stock is Tough

There’s thin coverage on Wall Street on Sonos stock. The four analysts watching SONO have a $16.50 average price target (links to Tipranks), implying more than 50% upside. Realistically, arriving at a fair value on Sonos’ value is tricky because the company has not been a public company for very long. Its revenue potential is difficult to forecast because the company is still in a growth phase.

Newly listed stocks are inherently risky and Sonos is no exception. If you try out its product you will know how much better the sound quality is over competitors. Plus, the company does not overcharge for its product. As an investment, though, Sonos stock is still a “show me” play. Fortunately, management is not panicking over the near-term inventory issues and slowing demand. It has the right attitude of delivering a superior product that stands out over the competition. And it is embracing home assistance on the speaker and a quality sound experience. That is a winning attitude that could pay off for Sonos investors.

Disclosure: As of this writing, the author did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

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