Clear your mind of anything you may know about Playboy.
Get rid of any opinions or biases.
Or if you have any moral qualms about the 70-year-old company then stop reading right now.
Okay, let’s talk about Playboy Group, or, as the company prefers, PLBY Group (NASDAQ:PLBY).
Similar name, newish management, new vision, plenty of catalysts, and yes, not your grandfather’s Playboy.
PLBY went public via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) in September of 2020.
By April of this year, the stock had surged five-fold, and is still higher by more than 285 per cent, as of this writing, after a solid quarterly earnings report this week in which revenue rose 67 per cent from last year, which caught short sellers flat-footed.
About 18 per cent of PLBY’s outstanding shares had been sold short heading into the earnings announcement.
So, why the enthusiasm?
PLBY, after being poorly run for many years and unable to reinvent itself, is now:
- Ramping up its direct-to-consumer sales – higher by 139 per cent year-over-year to $36 million.
- Striking more lucrative licensing deals.
- Making key acquisitions such as lingerie company Honey Birdette, out of Australia.
- Launching products in new categories such as spirits.
- And at the forefront of two emerging growth opportunities – content made by “creators”, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Building and expanding PLBY’s direct-to-consumer business and improving the company’s licensing deals was the main two-pronged focus of CEO Ben Kohn, when he took over in 2018 after a year as interim CEO.
Cohn has sat on PLBY’s board since 2011, when private equity firm Rizvi Traverse, where Cohn was a Managing Director, took Playboy private that year.
Under Cohn, PLBY has grown its annual revenue from $78 million two years ago to an expected $280 million this year, with reliance on sales in China down from 50 per cent to 15 per cent.
PLBY is projecting $600 million in annual revenue by 2025, which could be conservative by 100 per cent, according to Brian McGough, Sector Head, Retail at Hedgeye Risk Management.
On the creator front, you’ve likely heard of OnlyFans, the online membership platform and app, with an estimated 50 million users, where more than one million creators such as fitness trainers, models, adult stars, and others create content.
OnlyFans made a major misstep this year when it said it would ban adult content after pressure from credit card companies, then reversed itself on that decision. But the damage was done and PLBY may benefit from the timing.
That’s because in a few weeks, PLBY will be launching its version of OnlyFans with CENTERFOLD (yes, all caps), a platform the company says is “dedicated to creative freedom, artistic expression, and sex positivity.”
PLBY says it’s “hoping to launch with a group of creators that already generate hundreds of millions of dollars in the creator economy” and has already partnered with “huge music stars, former playmates, adult stars, artists, influencers, actors and celebrities” who have a collective social media following of more than 300 million.
Expect some big names to be announced as CENTERFOLD partners sometime in December.
PLBY isn’t quantifying any revenue or earnings numbers just yet from CENTERFOLD, but some analysts expect the new venture to add to earnings this quarter.
As for PLBY’s prospects with NFTs, don’t worry, you don’t need to understand them – unique, proprietary digital pieces of art, music, songs, video game items, etc. – in order to get that NFTs are hugely popular and part of an evolving multi-billion dollar industry.
Are NFTs in a bubble? Probably, according to new media guru and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, who has sold many NFTs of his own creation.
But, that’s not the point. It’s estimated NFTs, or digital collectibles, could grow into a total addressable market of about $240 billion by 2030, according to Morgan Stanley.
PLBY recently sold nearly 12,000, 3D Rabbitar characters for about eight million dollars, and pulled in another eight million after many of them were sold in the secondary market at higher prices.
One of the Rabbitars sold for $50,000.
PLBY gets a cut of each NFT sale in perpetuity.
After 70 years in existence, the company has accumulated millions of images so the archive it can tap to consistently create NFTs is deep and wide.
Daniel Adam, analyst at Loop Capital, says the NFT space is a “massive opportunity” for PLBY. He raised his price target on the stock to $50 from $29 after the earnings report, implying 31 per cent upside.
In its heyday, Playboy had seven million magazine subscribers, and one million key holders to its Playboy clubs.
It’s that kind of loyalty the new PLBY is aspiring to with its “reimagined” 21st Century Playboy Club, which will give members access to the contemporary Playboy lifestyle of “freedom, fun, and sophistication.”
Bear in mind, most of PLBY’s consumers are 35 years of age and under, and about 50 per cent are women.
The Playboy Club will provide members access to physical and virtual events and, naturally, the company is exploring the suddenly ubiquitous possibilities in the Metaverse, the 3D virtual iteration of the internet.
Recent Playboy Club events have included a party in New York City hosted by Pamela Anderson, and a Virtual Art Gallery party in the Metaverse.
There are five analysts who cover PLBY Group, and each of them have a “buy” rating on the company with the consensus seeing PLBY turning profitable in the current quarter.
We’ll give the last word to McGough, who deems PLBY a Best Idea Long.
Here’s his Long Thesis Overview as to why PLBY could be a 10-bagger from current levels within the next three years:
“We think that the upside here is simply massive. 10-bagger over TAIL duration (three years).
Ideas like this come along once every few years.
I know that it’s too thinly traded now (avg. daily volume is just under a million shares) for a lot of institutions to get involved, but that dynamic should change dramatically over the next one-to-three years while the Income Statement, Cash Flow, Balance Sheet and float characteristics catapult themselves worlds ahead of the consensus.”
Disclosure: Mark Bunting own shares in PLBY Group.