Travel stocks rally, stay-at-home companies plunge as pandemic wanes and tourism rebounds

Key Points
  • Travel companies like Delta, Airbnb and Expedia pointed to clear signs of recovery in recent earnings reports.
  • Stay-at-home stocks like Peloton, Zoom and Netflix sold off this week.
  • Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Friday that Covid-19 could end in the U.S. by early January.
U.S. travel ban to end Monday for vaccinated travelers
U.S. travel ban to end Monday for vaccinated travelers

As travel industry executives tout the rapid resurgence of tourism and entertainment, the pandemic stock portfolio is getting turned upside down.

Airlines stocks are rallying alongside online booking sites, ride-hailing companies and Airbnb, after earnings reports showed clear signs of a recovery in travel. At the same time, stay-at-home stocks are sagging as borders reopen and health experts indicate that an end to the Covid-19 pandemic could come sooner than expected.

"We've seen it everywhere," Expedia CEO Peter Kern told analysts on an earnings call Thursday after his company reported a 97% jump in revenue from a year earlier. "Cities are picking up. International has picked up. Virtually every area has seen growth."

Stephanie Link explains Expedia's surge
Stephanie Link explains Expedia's surge

Expedia shares soared 16% on Friday and rival Booking Holdings jumped over 7%. Airbnb surged 13% and closed out its best week since its IPO late last year, after the home-sharing company reported better-than-expected revenue and a 280% increase in profit.

Airlines are finally back. Delta had its best week in about a year, climbing 13%, as the U.S. prepares to lift international travel bans. American Airlines jumped 14% and Southwest Airlines rose more than 10% for the week.

The across-the-board rally in travel followed an announcement from Pfizer, which said on Friday that its Covid-19 pill, when combined with a common HIV drug, cut the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% in high-risk adults exposed to the virus. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a Pfizer board member, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" that Covid-19 could end in the U.S. by early January, when President Biden's workplace vaccine mandate goes into effect.

"These mandates that are going to be put in place by Jan. 4 really are coming on the tail end of this pandemic," said Gottlieb, who's also a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. 

Parsing Peloton after earnings
Parsing Peloton after earnings

Meanwhile, Peloton had its worst day on the market since the home workout company's IPO in 2019. Peloton reported a wider-than-expected quarterly loss late Thursday as it copes with waning demand from the reopening of gyms as well as supply chain constraints.

Peloton shares tumbled 35% on Friday to their lowest level since June 2020.

"We anticipated fiscal 2022 would be a very challenging year to forecast, given unusual year-ago comparisons, demand uncertainty amidst re-opening economies, and widely-reported supply chain constraints and commodity cost pressures," Chief Executive Officer John Foley said in a letter to shareholders. 

During an all-hands meeting on Friday, Peloton halted hiring across all departments effective immediately, CNBC has learned.

While not as dramatic as Peloton's plunge, Netflix dropped 6.5% this week, the worst stretch since April for the streaming-video company. Zoom, the video-chat company that headlined everyone's pandemic portfolio as revenue in 2020 soared 326%, fell over 6% on Friday. Food-delivery provider Doordash, which became a household name last year, fell more than 4%.

Workers returning to the office and consumers going back to the movie theaters, concerts and restaurants could very well spell some trouble for Netflix, Zoom, Doordash and other stay-at-home companies. To get from place to place, people will need rides, which helps explain why investors are rotating into Uber and Lyft.

On Thursday, Uber reported 72% revenue growth from a year earlier, with the number of active mobility drivers increasing nearly 60%. Lyft, which has also invested millions into incentives, said drivers are coming back. Lyft shares jumped 17% this week and Uber climbed almost 8%.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said on the company's earnings call that some of the supply and demand challenges that emerged during the pandemic are working themselves out. Surge pricing incidents have come down by roughly half, and wait times are averaging less than five minutes, he said.

"The rebound is unmistakable," Khosrowshahi told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Friday, adding that airport and business travel are both coming back, though the magnitude of the rebound varies by geography. "The human condition of wanting to move, of wanting to travel, of wanting to get out of the house, it's true for everyone and it's universal."

Broadway shows began reopening in September, while movie ticket sales are up and theaters and concert venues have thrown open their doors. Shares of Live Nation Entertainment surged 15% on Friday after the company reported strong third-quarter earnings, and Eventbrite rose more than 5%.

"Live music roared back over the past quarter," said Michael Rapino, CEO of Live Nation, on the company's earnings call. Rapino said ticket sales for major festivals were up 10% in the quarter from 2019 levels, and said "many of our festivals selling out in record time."

WATCH: Pent up demand for entertainment is driving the sector

Pent up demand for entertainment is driving the sector
Pent up demand for entertainment is driving the sector