Peloton is an acquisition target. Who might buy it?
Peloton Interactive Inc. — the early pandemic home-fitness darling that’s become a potential takeover target after a sharp plunge in its stock price — could find a challenging climate if it opts for a deal with a big technology company.
One key consideration is regulatory scrutiny. There’s a chill against large transactions at the moment in Washington, where technology companies are being investigated by regulators for their reach and influence and the Federal Trade Commission recently sued to block an acquisition by Nvidia Corp.
“The deal better be worth the headache for the company because they’re going to be scrutinized on whatever they buy,” Anurag Rana, a senior analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said in an interview Sunday.
Peloton is evaluating interest from potential suitors and is working with an advisor to explore options, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because discussions are private. The takeover interest in the New York maker of exercise bikes and treadmills is exploratory and may not lead to a transaction, they said.
Kaiser Permanente gets a special healthcare deal with California. Are Medicaid reforms in jeopardy?
Operators of other Medi-Cal health plans are angry, saying they will be forced to take the sickest patients while Kaiser Permanente can pick the enrollees it wants.
The companies said to be taking a look at Peloton — whether for an acquisition, an investment or some other kind of tie-up — include some of the biggest names in technology and fitness. Amazon.com Inc. has spoken with advisors about a potential deal, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday. Analysts have also speculated that Apple Inc. could be a potential buyer. Nike Inc. is also considering a bid for Peloton, according to the Financial Times.
Peloton didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment. Amazon, Nike and Apple declined to comment.
Peloton’s shares have dropped more than 80% from their January 2021 high amid a slowdown after the loosening of pandemic restrictions. It’s a very different landscape than the early days of the pandemic, when demand for the company’s products exceeded supply.
The company is valued at a little more than $8 billion, based on Friday’s official market close of $24.60 — below its September 2019 initial public offering price of $29. The shares surged as much as 43% in extended trading Friday after the Journal report.
Activist investor Blackwells Capital last month issued a letter demanding the company fire co-founder and Chief Executive John Foley and pursue a sale. Blackwells said in the letter that potential buyers could include Apple, Nike and Walt Disney Co.
In a short note Friday, Rana and Bloomberg Intelligence senior analyst Poonam Goyal said Peloton would “only serve as a distraction” for Amazon — while offering few synergies for a company focused on the cloud and logistics. An athleisure company, they said, “would be a better fit.”
“Active-wear brands already embody the workout scene through runs, etc.,” Goyal wrote in an email Sunday. “Having a workout machine that can integrate their ambassadors and items could help them establish themselves further in the active community. Lululemon bought Mirror for the same reason.”
Although Peloton is already among the at-home fitness leaders, greater product variety could help it recoup demand, Amine Bensaid, another analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said in an email Sunday.
Apple and Peloton may seem like a good match because Apple is already pushing further into fitness, but even with that there are potential drawbacks. Peloton’s large, expensive hardware isn’t in keeping with Apple’s traditional product-turnover strategy, and it has its own fitness software.
Even so, Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives said Apple may have strategic reasons to consider a pursuit of Peloton.
“Apple may be forced into this deal if Amazon, Nike or potentially Disney aggressively goes after Peloton in a defensive blocking strategic move,” Ives wrote in a note Sunday. “On the offensive front, Apple through its Fitness+ subscription service and Apple Watch strategy would be able to leverage the Peloton services and flywheel to significantly bulk up its healthcare initiatives, which have been a key strategic linchpin.”
Bloomberg writers Mark Gurman and Liana Baker contributed to this report.