Etsy's stock jumps to record, tripling in three months on surge in face mask sales

Key Points
  • Etsy shares rose 5.1% on Tuesday and have more than tripled in the past three months.
  • RBC Capital Markets and Goldman Sachs increased their price targets a day after Jefferies called Etsy a "primary beneficiary of home nesting."
  • Etsy CEO Josh Silverman said earlier this month that in April, "sellers were able to suddenly start creating masks almost out of thin air."
Josh Silverman, CEO of Etsy.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Over the first three weeks in March, Etsy lost half its value on concern that an economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus would batter consumer sales. Then people started turning to the site to buy masks, and Etsy took off.

Since bottoming on March 20, Etsy's stock price has more than tripled. The shares jumped 5.1% on Tuesday to a record $101.22, after RBC Capital Markets raised its price target to $117 from $79 and Goldman Sachs increased its target to $120 from $88.

RBC wrote in a report that it conducted a survey of buyers, and 82% of respondents said they expect to spend more on Etsy over the next 12 months. Goldman said its bullishness is a reflection of app downloads after an increase of more than 100% in June from a year earlier. Those two reports landed a day after Jefferies analysts said they see "continued upside" for Etsy based on the trends in e-commerce and the site's ability to sell a wide assortment of products to new and existing customers.

Etsy since March 1

"In addition to being a primary beneficiary of home nesting, a surge in mask sales on ETSY since April has helped introduce its broader offerings to new shoppers," wrote the Jefferies analysts, who recommend buying the stock and have a $110 price target. "We also see a rebound in categories related to social events, as states relax restrictions on gatherings, helping offset the impact of moderating mask sales."

Etsy touts itself as a global marketplace of independent sellers, with a focus on "unique and creative goods" and collectibles along with life's essentials. The company, which held its stock market debut in 2015, makes money by charging a listing fee for items and a commission when sales are completed. Like other e-commerce companies, Etsy faces constant pressure from Amazon's expansive marketplace, competitive pricing and rapid shipping options.

In the first few weeks of the shelter-in-place orders, Etsy's volume dipped and investors fled. But the company's fortunes turned in April, when sellers started creating protective face masks and selling them in large volumes.

In its first-quarter earnings report, Etsy said it sold over 12 million masks ($133 million worth) in April, which would have made it the second biggest category if it were a standalone unit. CEO Josh Silverman called it "an extraordinary month" and said the company recruited sellers after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that Americans wear fabric masks.

A day before the CDC announced its recommendation, Etsy withdrew 2020 financial guidance, citing the unstable economy. Silverman spoke at an investor event earlier this month about the growth from mask sales and how they helped change the company's trajectory

"Our sellers were able to suddenly start creating masks almost out of thin air in a matter of days and get to a point where they could produce and sell hundreds of thousands of masks a day in a matter of weeks," Silverman said. "And I don't know many other retailers who could do something like that – like the agility of our marketplace."

Etsy CEO: Merchants sold 12 million face masks, sales jumped 79% in April
Etsy CEO: Merchants sold 12 million face masks, sales jumped 79% in April

Like many other companies that are seeing usage spikes with consumers and workers stuck at home, Etsy still can't predict what will happen as economies reopen and people go back to the office.

But RBC is optimistic enough of lasting trends that it raised its 2021 revenue estimate by 9.5%, and now expects sales next year of $1.4 billion, which would represent 22% growth over its prediction for 2020. The firm dug into mask sales and determined that much of the purchasing activity they drove is sustainable.

Of Etsy's 4 million new buyers in April, 25% purchased masks while the rest bought items in other categories, RBC said, adding that the company is both proving its value across a range of products and getting more efficient at advertising and luring customers to the site.

"We view Etsy as one of the few structural winners through this crisis and the company has been gaining share in the fast-growing and accelerating eCommerce market," RBC wrote. "We believe that strong secular tailwinds (store closures, SIP, buyer safety concerns) and Etsy's increased marketing efforts should allow the company to acquire new customers at a faster than historical rate, at least in the near-term." 

WATCH: Analyst on which stocks benefit from the stay-at-home trade

Analyst on which stocks benefit from the stay-at-home trade
Analyst on which stocks benefit from the stay-at-home trade