Mortgage

Fueled by the pandemic, Roku’s audience is growing

Fueled by the pandemic, Roku’s audience is growing
Written by Publishing Team

Take my idiot motley

Roku is a major streaming hub whose stock has skyrocketed in recent years. It has no problem selling its dongle at a loss, as its deals with smart TV makers make it the default operating system on 38% of smart TVs shipped in the US.

Building its audience base is everything, and the pandemic has helped Roku’s audience grow even faster. It had 56.4 million active accounts by the end of September, a 23% increase from the previous year.

People turn to Roku as a free hub to launch the thousands of streaming services available, while Roku generates money through the ads it shows them. ARPU is up 49% over the past year. Roku’s streaming hours have gone up 75% over the past two years.

Roku only scratches the surface when it comes to monetization. It has started securing original content, and has rewarded its growing base with shows and movies that they can’t get anywhere else.

There are risks here, such as Roku’s stock price, which, although recently down 52% from its 52-week high, still has a forward P/E ratio in the triple digits. But as long as Roku continues to lead the way in streaming service companies, its future looks bright — and long-term investors may consider it in their portfolios. (Motley Fool owns and has recommended stock in Roku.)

Filings can be filed as early as January 24, with the April 18 tax filing deadline set for most taxpayers due to the District of Columbia holiday on Friday, April 15.

ask the fool

From SH in Mobile, Ala.: Could you explain what the mortgage ‘scores’ are?

The fool responds: The point is 1% of the home loan. So if you were to borrow, say, $300,000 to buy a house, one point would be $3,000. You are more likely to pass through “discount points,” which are points that you can choose to pay in order to lower the interest rate on your loan. Doing so will reduce the total interest you will pay for the life of the loan and reduce your monthly mortgage payments.

It’s often not worth paying points if you aren’t likely to stay in the house for many years, or if you have an adjustable (not fixed rate) mortgage. If you pay, say, $6,000 as a point to lower your prices and then sell the home three years later, you probably won’t save enough to offset that $6,000 cost. Points paid on adjustable rate loans usually only affect the initial rate, saving you less in the long run. Points paid to lower your interest rate are generally tax-free, but you can only deduct them during each year you would have paid that interest.

You can also go through “creation” points, which are fees that some (but not all) lenders charge for work done on your mortgage. They are not tax exempt.

Online calculators like the one at Fool.com/calculators can help you decide if paying points is a smart move for you.

From FE in Grafton, VT: Where can I find out what percentage of a company’s stock is owned by insiders?

The fool responds: Try asking the company themselves by contacting their investor relations department. Or consult a financial website such as Finance.Yahoo.com, where you can search for information about the company, including its principal owners.

school of fools

It’s no secret that health care costs have skyrocketed in recent decades, and many Americans have ended up with huge, uncontrollable medical bills. Here are some ways to avoid falling into this situation, or to deal with it if you already have one.

Prepare an emergency fund. Most of us should have at least three months of living expenses in an accessible account – if not six months or more. This can keep your family afloat in the event of an unexpected job loss, a costly repair bill or major medical expenses. At a minimum, be prepared to pay the deductible in your health insurance plan.

Plan for anticipated health care expenses. Not all medical bills come up suddenly — many are routine or expected, like visits to the doctor for illnesses, upcoming surgeries, or dental work. Plan and save for such expenses the way you would other household expenses.

Take advantage of flexible spending accounts or health savings accounts. This allows you to set aside pre-tax dollars to spend on qualified health care expenses such as doctor visits, lab work, and prescriptions. Read on each of them first to see which one serves you best.

Ask about generic drugs. If you don’t ask, you may be prescribed an unnecessarily expensive medication.

Read all medical bills carefully. It is not uncommon to find wrong charges, and sometimes they are charged twice. If you do not receive an itemized invoice, order one. Then do some digging to make sure the charges are correct – and definitely ask for any incorrect charges to be fixed.

negotiate. Not all charges are fixed. Many health care providers – doctors’ offices and hospitals alike – will work with you if you are not able to pay your bill in full and on time. They may reduce the bill or set up a payment plan for you. This tactic doesn’t always work, but it’s worth a try.

My stupidest investment

From R., online: Several years ago, I wasn’t an investor, other than trying to pay for a small farmhouse I bought. My son from college called and said, “Dad, you need to buy some Lucent stock. You’ll make enough money to buy diamonds the size of horse shit.” The pictures attracted me, so I did some quick research and bought $1,000 worth of Lucent stock. It started dropping, so I bought another $500; At the bottom, I bought another $500. I could have made four cultivation payments with that money. Diamond vision faded. In the end, I sold the stock. I’m still not much invested, but I did buy some stocks, researching them in depth before hitting buy. I’m fine. And my farm is paying off.

The fool responds: Lucent separated from AT&T in 1996 as a standalone communications equipment company. At one point, it was among the most-held stocks in America, and its price rose along with other technology companies. Amid the general euphoria of investors from the stock market rally, many did not notice the deteriorating balance sheet of Lucent and did not question the costly acquisitions. The more you research a company before buying, the better – and it’s important to keep up with progress on your property. Also, think twice before you double down on a stock drop, as stock prices often drop for good reasons.

Gift cards on display in Dallas in November.

who am I?

I trace my roots back to the 1970’s introduction to a weightlifting conference for exercise machines called Blue Monsters, with a main part shaped like a spiral shell of slugs. I was sold in 1986 to a man who filed for bankruptcy protection in 1990. My expansion into medical equipment didn’t work out. Today, headquartered in Vancouver, Washington, and with a recent market value of nearly $185 million, my brands include Bowflex, Schwinn, JRNY and My Own Name. I sell elliptical machines, walkers, inline bikes, and much more. It has been called the best place to work many times. who am I?

I can’t remember last week’s question? You can find it here.

Last week’s trivia answer: Siemens AG

Dennis Cail, the creator of Zirtue, in his Dallas office, sees the new corporate payments service as a win-win for borrowers and businesses.

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