While 2021 was very good to Roblox (NYSE:RBLX) shareholders, 2022 is off to an arguably poor start. This gaming platform company with metaverse potential has been caught up in the broader growth stock sell-off and is trading down about 15.7% year to date.
Part of the drop can be attributed to some investor concern heading into 2022 about Roblox’s rich valuation. Let’s look closer at this metaverse company and determine if the concern is justified, or if perhaps the stock is worth buying at its lower (but still elevated) price.
Roblox is maintaining its user growth momentum
The Roblox app is free to join and use. The company earns revenue through in-app purchases voluntarily made by its users. This freemium model has helped the company attract 49.4 million daily active users (as of November). That’s 35% higher than in the same month in 2020. User engagement and new signups surged for Roblox at the pandemic onset when millions of kids were sent home for remote learning, and extracurricular activities were paused. Despite economies reopening and schools bringing kids back to campus, Roblox has sustained its user growth rates. That’s impressive.
If users wish to access certain items and activities on the platform, they do so by spending Robux, an in-game currency that is purchased with real money. The company records revenue when users spend Robux in the game. In its most recently reported quarter, ended Sept. 30, Roblox earned $509 million in revenue. That total was up by 102% from the same quarter in 2020. In fact, Roblox has doubled revenue year over year in each of the previous four quarters.
Roblox in-house developers do not create most of the games and items that players spend Robux on. Instead, Roblox has a community of third-party developers who spend their time and resources using the platform to create unique experiences, gameplay, and objects they think players will enjoy. This business model lowers the development costs for Roblox and it also lowers one of the biggest risks involved with game development — the cost of developing an unpopular game. The user-developers take on the risk and only get their share of the compensation if the game attracts user engagement and Robux spending. Only proven hits that generate engagement make money.
The model is proving to be effective at generating cash flow for Roblox. While Roblox is not profitable on the bottom line, it is earning a growing stream of free cash flow. It has put together a streak of five consecutive quarters where its free cash flow surpassed $100 million. That’s remarkably higher than in all of 2019, …….