While spending on many types of tech hardware is falling sharply right now, there has been an uptick in spending on gear that either helps people work from home or helps them stay entertained while stuck at home.
Just as grocery stores have seen their shelves emptied of various consumer staples, major electronics retailers have seen runs on PCs, as well as for PC peripherals such as monitors and webcams. Last week, The Wall Street Journal and IT trade publication CRN both ran articles highlighting the PC and peripherals shortages that have popped up in recent weeks.
CRN quoted the president of one IT reseller as saying his company is “down to buying computers from Costco (COST) - Get Costco Wholesale Corporation Report,” after a customer couldn’t find any systems at a local Best Buy (BBY) - Get Best Buy Co., Inc. Report. An exec at another reseller reported seeing high demand for everything from PCs and webcams to licenses for teleconferencing and security software, while a third reported seeing a 70-day backlog on popular Chromebook models.
A few minutes browsing the websites of retailers such as Best Buy and Amazon.com (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report makes it clear that while it’s not hard to buy a laptop or a monitor right now, retail demand is running higher than usual.
Of the 83 Chromebooks listed for sale on Best Buy’s website, more than 30 are currently sold out. In addition, 4 out of Best Buy’s 7 best-selling monitors are sold out, as are 7 of its 8 best-selling webcams. All of the webcams, it should be noted, are Logitech models.
On Amazon’s website, major PC OEMs directly selling on Amazon, such as HP (HPQ) - Get HP Inc. (HPQ) Report, Lenovo, Acer and Samsung, are often out of stock of popular Chromebooks and Windows laptops. In some cases, the systems can still be purchased via third-party sellers.
Separately, with streaming activity having spiked in the U.S. and Europe, Amazon is currently seeing shortages for certain Roku (ROKU) - Get Roku, Inc. Class A Report and Amazon Fire TV streaming devices.
Amazon currently states that the $39 Roku Premiere streaming player will be in stock on April 1, and that the Roku Express player (currently on sale for $24) will be in stock on March 29. Amazon’s standard Fire TV stick (currently on sale for $23) is promised to be in stock on April 5.
Wall Street seems to have figured out that -- although the economic damage done by the COVID-19 pandemic is a clear negative for the company's video ad sales -- Roku is likely seeing strong active user and streaming activity growth right now. As of the time of this article, Roku’s stock is up 16.1% in Monday trading to $88.40, aided by a bullish note from Needham analyst Laura Martin.
Netflix’s (NFLX) - Get Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) Report stock is also having a good day: The streaming giant’s shares are up 8.6% to $361.52, after Baird upgraded them to Outperform and reported that its quarterly consumer survey points to strong Q1 subscriber growth.