Direct-to-Consumer Stocks Slipping As Costs Rise
Changing Market’s Headwinds
Direct-to-consumer brands like Warby Parker (WRBY) and Stitch Fix (SFIX) are stumbling as new market dynamics turn hostile. Soaring Facebook (FB) ad prices, stricter Apple (AAPL) iOS privacy rules, and crippling cost increases from supply-chain disruptions leave these former market darlings struggling.
The lean and nimble direct-to-consumer model cut out the middleman, lowering overhead and tapping into the promise of internet shopping. This wave of enthusiasm pushed their valuations sky-high. The tides are now changing, and direct-to-consumer stock valuations have plummeted.
Many of these direct-to-consumer companies are facing significant net losses and have seen their stock price fall by more than 50% from 2021 highs. The volatility of their financials is staggering. On the heels of $173 million in net income the prior year, Wayfair (W) posted losses of $78 million in the third quarter of 2021.
Analysts say it could be important for these companies to embrace platforms outside of Facebook for their advertising, such as TikTok, or to source products in the US. Venture capitalists could help stabilize the sector, as direct-to-consumer companies have taken in around $1.05 billion in funding in 2022.
Outlook for Investors
It is a precarious time for these internet-based companies as the current environment presents a tangle of problems coming from multiple directions. Companies with low or no profits will likely be harmed by the impact of interest-rate increases, which may lead to diminished enthusiasm for the tech sector and other growth stocks.
Some market observers question whether the previous run-up in stock prices ever truly reflected the actual prospects of these firms. It may harken back to the “irrational exuberance” of the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s. Direct-to-consumer companies are looking to embrace the model while tweaking its execution.
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