fuboTV (NYSE: FUBO) grew its subscriber count at lightning speed in recent years as the cord-cutting trend gained momentum. The company just delivered third-quarter financial results that beat Wall Street’s expectations, driven by a 31% year-over-year increase in subscribers in North America.
After hitting a 52-week low of $2.32 earlier this year, the stock price rebounded to roughly $3.50. The company’s market cap (total shares outstanding times the share price) looks low at $688 million for a fast-growing streaming business chasing a massive growth opportunity.
Should you buy the stock? There’s a good argument for and against buying the stock here. Let’s review the pros and cons of investing in fuboTV right now.
More advertisers are shifting to fuboTV
Competition is fierce in the live TV streaming market with several alternatives from major content providers, such as Alphabet‘s YouTube, Walt Disney’s (NYSE: DIS) Hulu, and DirecTV Stream. fuboTV’s business strategy is simple: it makes money from subscriptions and advertising and reinvests in broadcast rights to stream live sporting events. The goal is to win subscribers for the sports shows, where fuboTV is widely seen as the leader, and retain them with other offerings across news and movies that can be streamed live or on-demand.
One sign that fuboTV is winning the battle is its recent advertising revenue growth. In the third quarter, fuboTV reported total revenue of $219 million for North America, with ad revenue reaching $22.5 million, growing 21% year over year.
In advertising, fuboTV significantly outperformed Walt Disney’s cable networks, where ESPN’s ad revenue fell 23% year over year. Disney also called out lower advertising revenue at Hulu and Disney+ Hotstar, the international arm of Disney+.
Moreover, Roku, the leading TV streaming aggregator, reported that its platform revenue, which includes advertising and revenue-sharing agreements with third-party subscription services, grew 15% year over year last quarter — much lower than fuboTV’s total revenue growth of 43%.
The fact that fuboTV is growing faster than these competitors, particularly in advertising, is indicative of its subscriber engagement and the competitiveness of its offering.
That’s the positive. Here’s the reason you shouldn’t buy the stock.
fuboTV is unprofitable
Through the first three quarters of 2022, fuboTV reported a net loss of $410 million, which is worse than last year’s $271 million. Management’s goal is for the company to reach positive free cash flow by 2025. It recently closed the fuboTV Sportsbook business, which management had hoped to integrate with live sports streaming to increase engagement, to help reach its profit goals.
However, a lot can change the competitive landscape in three years. What if fuboTV loses market share to well-financed competitors and further delays its profit goals? In that scenario, the business could be in trouble. Alphabet has billions of cash resources to invest in YouTube TV, which has the brand and built-in user base to be a tough competitor.
Even Netflix, with over $5 billion in operating profit, could emerge as a competitor to fuboTV. Netflix is looking for ways to stimulate growth after it reported slowing subscriber growth this year. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the streaming leader is interested in acquiring live sports rights.
If there’s one advantage fuboTV has over these companies, it’s the fact that it is losing money. Netflix built clout with investors for its high operating margin, which could get wiped out if it chased expensive sports programming. fuboTV’s willingness to absorb huge losses is a strong deterrent for new entrants.
Still, fuboTV’s operating loss is not much of a reason to invest in fuboTV right now. A lack of profitability is why the stock price fell nearly 90% over the last year. The stock is not likely going to sustain a rally until investors see sequential improvement on the bottom line, so it’s best to keep the stock on a watchlist and perhaps consider other streaming stocks right now.
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Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. John Ballard has positions in Netflix. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Netflix, Roku, Walt Disney, and fuboTV, Inc. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long January 2024 $145 calls on Walt Disney and short January 2024 $155 calls on Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.