We're finally getting to see whatever the new normal is going to look like. So naturally it makes sense to look at what stocks will benefit from the re-opening trade, suggests Gavin Graham, a specialist in international securities and a contributing editor to Internet Wealth Builder.
Almost everything to do with travel has been surging upward. But there is one reopening stock that still looks like an opportunity to me. It’s Airbnb (ABNB). It went public at possibly the worst time ever, coming out in an unusual offering that bypassed the major investment banks just before the COVID meltdown.
Before things shut down, the stock was off to a very promising start, trading up to almost $220 before getting smacked down with the rest of the travel stocks. Many of these stocks have recovered but ABNB is still almost $70 below its high.
ABNB is a great entrepreneurial story. It started with three guys renting out air mattresses in their apartment and has morphed into the $31 billion company it is today.
Over the last 14 years the company has expanded into a worldwide operation with over 64 million nights booked in the first quarter of 2021 even though the pandemic is still very much in the news. That was a 13% year-over-year increase.
Gross booking values were over $10 billion in the same period, which was a 52% year-over-year increase and that was largely on domestic travel.
International travel is still lagging and likely will for the next few months, but the company is expecting that to come back full bore in 2022. The company has more than four million hosts around the world, and they are dedicated to increasing that number every year.
There's no getting around the fact that the company is still losing money, in fact the total first quarter net loss was $1.2 billion. Some of this was stock-based compensation, some was term loan repayments. Despite that, adjusted EBITDA materially improved because the company got costs under control.
For the quarter, adjusted EBITDA was a loss of $59 million compared to a loss of $334 million in the same quarter of 2020. The company has lots of cash — as of March 31, it had $6.6 billion of cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments, and restricted cash.
It is my feeling that this adjusted cost base and the company’s refocusing back to their core business will help it accelerate profitability over the next couple of years. It is really trying to improve its service offering and, to that end, hired a senior executive from Apple who ran that company’s customer service support channels.
ABNB is one of my largest personal positions. I believe its pricing has been appropriately adjusted from the initial run up and is now at a great entry point to benefit from what I expect will be exploding travel both domestically and internationally over the next couple of years as people emerge from their caves. Buy with a target of $180.