By Jake Sheckter, Business Editor
Each month’s edition of the YU Observer this year will include a “3-Stock Highlight” on a few stocks that have been in the news lately, have interesting stories, or provide for an interesting read. On behalf of the YU Observer, we’d like to remind everyone that these stock picks are for educational purposes only and are not to be taken as financial advice or used for investing any real cash. This month, we will be highlighting Airbnb Inc. (ABNB), PayPal Holdings Inc. (PYPL), and Netflix Inc. (NFLX).
Airbnb Inc. (ABNB)
Whether you’ve personally used what some are calling the “internet hub for the bed-and-breakfast industry”, or simply heard it used as a household name by anyone and everyone, Airbnb’s Nasdaq debut in December 2020 caused ripples (or even waves) throughout the bed-and-breakfast (BnB) industry and beyond. Although they are a new player to the stock market scene, to date, Airbnb has already reached a $100 billion market capitalization, with over $4 billion in revenues, and has been revolutionizing the BnB space. While there are those who begin to worry about the potential for growth with such a high market cap, $4 billion is only a fraction of the BnB titan’s capability. With reports stating that the stays for short-term vacations approaches a nearly $1.8 trillion worldwide market, combine that with long-term stays (of over 30 days) adding another $210 billion and you get a beautiful $2 trillion dollar addressable market.
After its initial public offering (IPO) of $68 per share, ABNB stock soared roughly 223% to an all-time high of $219.94 this past February. Barron’s recently announced that equity research analysts at Cowen increased their price target on Airbnb shares from 160 to 220 (a 38% bump). With COVID-19 travel restrictions beginning to display more flexibility worldwide as an increase in vaccinations slows the spread of the virus, Airbnb’s shares (and stock price) have been flying lately. Health concerns and issues with the hotel industry’s concentration of guests within buildings drove millions of customers to the BnB platform throughout the pandemic. With positive earnings reports and the relaxation of travel restrictions, Airbnb stock showed off an impressive gain of 9.5% in the third quarter of this year, with the travel play already making October an admirable month for the company.
If you haven’t used PayPal at some point yet, you either have an issue with using/access to basic technology, or just happen to have an excessive amount of cash on-hand. PayPal Holdings, Inc. (PYPL) has had one of the best years in its history due to the rapid shift of consumers using e-commerce throughout the pandemic. But the future looks even brighter for the fintech company. PayPal Holdings, Inc., founded in 1998 and headquartered in San Jose, California, operates as a technology platform and digital payments company that enables digital and mobile payments on behalf of consumers and merchants worldwide. Last year, PayPal expanded its in-store portfolio by launching the Visa-backed Venmo credit card, enabling users to make purchases on credit and manage monthly payments through the Venmo App.
The company also added new mobile app features such as allowing users to buy now and pay later, cash checks, receive direct deposits, and pay bills with PayPal and Venmo. And for those itching to get in on the cryptocurrency market, PayPal users can now buy, sell, and hold cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin within the mobile app. This not only provides a source of exposure to the benefits of crypto trading but the rise in Bitcoin’s value (as of late) also boosts PayPal’s stock in a general sense. For a world that gets more integrated into the fintech sector every day, PayPal may prove to be a crucial player for years to come.
Arguably the largest use of screen time throughout the pandemic for many of us (yes, even with Zoom classes accounted for, you know who you are), Netflix continues to dazzle investors and customers with their stock, service offerings, and exclusive content. Shares of our favorite movie/TV streaming service have soared nearly 69% throughout the pandemic, from roughly $370 pre-pandemic to $625 today. Currently, Wall Street is expecting to see new subscriptions accelerate to 3.7 million for the third quarter, compared to 2.2 million subscribers in the same quarter last year and the mere 1.5 million subscribers added in the second quarter of this year. To put things in perspective, Netflix added a record 25.9 million new users in the first half of 2020 as lockdowns across the world pushed all of us to spend exponentially more time on our screens and devices. This just goes to show the dramatic slowing of Netflix’s subscription rates due to the ease of lockdown restrictions.
Now, Netflix is relying less on the novelty (or lack thereof) of increased screen time and is establishing new hit content to drive growth in the third and fourth quarters of this year. With the recent release and consequent fame of Netflix’s “Squid Game”, Bloomberg reported that the series would be worth close to $900 million to the streaming powerhouse, which is especially impressive when we think about the $21.4 million it cost to produce. A reported Netflix record of 132 million people have watched the show in its first 23 days after release (breaking the previous viewership record held by “Bridgerton”). Additionally, with Squid Game being released well-into the third quarter of this year, Netflix is counting on this driving force to provide a sustainable boost throughout the fourth quarter and into the beginning of 2022, not to mention the other numerous content packages Netflix holds in their pocket currently.
If you would like to learn more about the stock market and its components, you may want to look into the Yeshiva University Stock Exchange (YUSE) Club. Learn more about the YUSE at Yusegroup.weebly.com.