Friday 13 December 2019

Fitbit's weak profit forecast clouds healthy holiday beat


Fitbit's current-quarter profit forecast missed Wall Street estimates by a wide margin, as the wearable fitness device maker aggressively invests in new products, sending its shares down more than 16pc in after-hours trading.

The lackluster guidance overshadowed the company's comfortable quarterly revenue and profit beat in the holiday shopping season.

Fitbit has been diversifying its portfolio of colorful wristbands and clippable devices that track calories, sleeping patterns and heart rate, to better compete with rivals as well as to tap new markets and demographies.

The company last month unveiled its $200 smartwatch, Blaze, to mixed reviews. Earlier this month, Fitbit announced a new wristband, Alta, to appeal to the more fashion-conscious customer.

"We're ramping up manufacturing as fast as we can for Blaze and Alta," Chief Financial Officer Bill Zerella said in an interview, referring to the devices that will ship in March.

Zerella said the company's production was now entering a scale that could support a global launch.

Investor sentiment around Fitbit has turned bearish over the past few months due to concerns over rising competition from Apple's Apple Watch line, which sports many fitness-related features including a workout app and a heart-rate sensor.

Fitbit said on an adjusted per-share basis it expects to break even to a profit of 2 cents for the quarter ending March, lagging analysts' average expectation for 23 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company said it sold 8.2 million wearable devices in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, a 55pc jump from a year earlier, and above the 7.5 million expected by analysts, according to research firm FactSet StreetAccount.

Fitbit's net income attributable to common stockholders rose to $64.2m, or 26 cents per share, in the quarter, from $11.9m, or 19 cents per share, a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, the company earned 35 cents per share.

Revenue nearly doubled to $711.6m from $370.2m.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of 25 cents and revenue of $647.8m.

Fitbit's revenue forecast of $2.4 billion-$2.5 billion and adjusted profit of $1.08-$1.20 per share for 2016 was largely in line with expectations.

Shares of the San Francisco-based company were down 15pc at $14.04 in after-hours trading on Monday after closing up 5.9pc.

The stock, which has lost nearly 70pc of its value since hitting a high in August, has been trading below the June IPO price of $20 all this month.


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