Planet Fitness is raising the price of its Black Card membership but still offers a $10 option – MarketWatch

Science & Technology

Planet Fitness Inc. is raising the price of its Black Card membership this month, bringing the monthly fee to $24.99 for new members.
The decision to raise the price from $22.99 previously comes after a test at 100 locations last summer.
The gym franchisor will still offer a standard membership for $10 a month. Even with the more affordable option, Planet Fitness PLNT, +3.32% says six out of 10 members chose the pricier plan.
“Within 10 miles of a current Planet Fitness store, there are approximately 140 million people old enough to join a gym but do not belong to any gym,” said Chris Rondeau, chief executive of Planet Fitness, on the earnings call, according to FactSet.
“With fewer competitors due to significant industry consolidation, we believe that perhaps our 4,000 store potential in the U.S. may be the floor and not the ceiling for store growth.”
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Planet Fitness is also reaching out to younger potential members through a program that offers high-school students free membership through the summer. In a statement, Rondeau said the High School Summer Pass gives teens an outlet during the country’s current teen mental health crisis. The program is making a return after taking a break for the past two years.
During the earnings call, Rondeau added that many of the teens who participated in the program became members.
“The program resulted in nearly 1 million teen participants and more than 11% of those teens are members today,” he said.
Total members reached a record 16.2 million at the end of the quarter.
Planet Fitness is also expanding beyond the U.S., with a new agreement in New Zealand for a minimum of 25 locations over the next few years, and the first openings in Mexico, where at least 80 locations are planned for the next five years.
Planet Fitness reported first-quarter profit that beat expectations, but missed on revenue. Rondeau pointed to the “ups and downs” of the quarter, but says there was a rebound in usage and new members as the period progressed.
“Post-COVID fitness trends and member adds show Gen Z/millennial cohorts gravitating toward fitness more so than prior generations, with the company working to capitalize on and capture this demand,” wrote JPMorgan in a note.
And with inflation soaring, analysts say members might be looking to trade down to a more affordable health club.
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“Franchise appetite undeterred as weighing inflationary pressures on the consumer potentially prompts a shift in demand from expensive boutiques/clubs to value-oriented Planet Fitness,” JPMorgan said.
JPMorgan upgraded Planet Fitness stock to overweight from neutral, with a $90 price target.
 “[W]e see opportunity for upcoming initiatives including the High School Summer Pass […],improved marketing (following local execution challenges during Q1), and pricing (not expecting Black Card mix to decline following raise to $24.99/month for new joins) to support continued member gains/comps in the quarters ahead,” wrote Baird analysts.
Baird rates Planet Fitness outperform with a $92 price target, down from $108.
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“This is the first broad-based increase since 2019, when the price was taken up $1, and prior to that there was an increase in 2017 of $2,” wrote BMO Capital Markets.
“Using these prior hikes as a reference point, management indicated that they
historically have seen Black Card acquisition be ‘relatively flat’ sequentially, but with Black Card penetration still growing year-over-year.”
BMO Capital rates Planet Fitness stock outperform with an $88 price target, down from $96.
Planet Fitness stock rose 3.7% in Wednesday trading and is down 22.4% for the year to date.
The consumer price index rose 8.3% year over year in April, higher than expectations for 8.1%, but a reduction from the 8.5% increase seen in March. 
Tonya Garcia is a MarketWatch reporter covering retail and consumer-oriented companies. You can follow her on Twitter @tgarcianyc. She is based in New York. Tonya joined MarketWatch from Moguldom Media, where she was business editor for MadameNoire, a website targeting African-American women with a range of content from personal finance to economics, politics, education and lifestyle and entertainment. She also worked at Mediabistro, and previously handled media relations for MSLGroup’s consumer practice.

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