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Etsy investors risk more pain after record sell-off

June 13, 2022 Updated Mon., June 13, 2022 at 7:59 p.m.

The Etsy website is shown on a laptop computer. Etsy investors are risking more pain after record selloff.   (Bloomberg )
The Etsy website is shown on a laptop computer. Etsy investors are risking more pain after record selloff.  (Bloomberg )
By Subrat Patnaik Bloomberg Bloomberg

Etsy’s bad news for investors goes beyond the 66% plunge in the value of its shares that’s the second-biggest in the S&P 500 Index this year: The unraveling of the platform for craft sales may have further to go, especially with the fastest inflation in 40 years crimping consumer budgets.

With Etsy shares already near their cheapest on record, UBS Group slashed its price target by 50% this month, while Morgan Stanley said Wall Street’s earnings estimates for the second half might still be too high.

The boost in online sales from the pandemic is fading, said Ken Leon, director of equity research at CFRA.

“Etsy is facing a behavioral shift away from sheltering at home and having abundant time at home to buy personal items,” he said.

Etsy is heading for the biggest annual stock decline in its seven years as a listed company.

Yet the shares are still more than 60% higher than their 2019 closing level, while other e-commerce companies like Shopify are back to their pre-COVID prices as shoppers, who were already returning to their pre-pandemic habits, tighten their purse strings amid higher prices.

After years of double-digit revenue increases, Etsy’s sales growth is forecast to slow to 9.7% in 2022, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That data point alone could spark an exit at a time when investors stand ready to punish companies that don’t deliver blowout results and strong forecasts.

“Earnings revisions for a large portion of our e-commerce coverage may have just started,” said Morgan Stanley analysts led by Lauren Schenk. “Thus most stocks likely have not bottomed.”

Schenk said in a report last week she remains cautious on Etsy, which helps merchants sell handmade crafts and vintage items, and furniture retailer Wayfair, and questioned the durability of their growth given the weak economic environment.

Etsy’s shares are relatively cheap at about 3.5 times projected sales, versus a five-year average of 7.7 and the 2016 record low of 2, and analysts are still bullish, giving it 15 buy recommendations and 6 holds. That may not be enough to lure investors given the slowdown in online commerce.

E-commerce stocks have slumped this year as the most recent earnings season laid bare the quickly fading pandemic-driven boom because of surging inflation and concerns of a recession that are weighing on consumers.

Amazon triggered a historic rout after reporting a weaker-than-expected revenue forecast in April, Shopify’s merchandise volume and revenue for the first quarter failed to meet analyst expectations, Wayfair’s loss was wider than projections and eBay gave lackluster sales and profit outlooks.

Shopify’s U.S.-listed shares and Wayfair have plunged more than 75% in 2022. eBay and Amazon are each more than 30% lower.

While analysts have begun chopping away at their profit estimates and price objectives for Etsy, the stock has been falling even faster.

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