Fitbit Cuts Its Earnings Forecast

The maker of wearable fitness trackers says profits and sales will be lower this quarter than originally forecasted.
Katie Kuehner-HebertFebruary 23, 2016
Fitbit Cuts Its Earnings Forecast

Even with the rollout of two new wearable fitness trackers, including Blaze, a smart watch that features on-screen workouts and a connected GPS, Fitbit on Monday forecasted lower-than-expected revenue and profit.

Sales in the first quarter of 2016 will be in the range of $420 million to $440 million, the San Francisco-based company said in a statement. The average analyst projection before the announcement was $485 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Earnings per share for Fitbit, excluding certain items, will be zero to 2 cents, compared with the previous average analyst estimate of 23 cents.

Fitbit faces stiffening competition from Apple, Samsung, and Xiaomi, as well as Fossil Group and Under Armour. In the fourth quarter of 2015, the wearable device market actually took off, according to International Data Corp. IDC said device makers shipped 27.4 million units in the holiday quarter, more than doubling the totals of the year before. For all of 2015, vendors shipped 78.1 million units, up 172% over 2014.

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Fitbit’s shares dropped 19% to $13.33 at 12:26 p.m. in New York on Tuesday.

“This has been a pretty competitive category for a while,” Fitbit’s chief executive James Park said. “The story will play out, but in the short term we can’t control the share price.”

The decline in Fitbit’s shares is tied more to the expiration of a lockup on a secondary offering and a selloff in technology stocks than the underlying business, FBN Securities analyst Shebly Seyrafi told Bloomberg. (Seyrafi has an outperform rating on the company.)

The timing of shipments of Fitbit’s new products, Alta and Blaze, may result in the majority of reorders pushing into the second quarter of 2016, the company said. The media campaign to promote Alta and Blaze will drive up marketing expenses in the quarter. Manufacturing costs also will rise to meet expected demand, which is anticipated to affect gross margins, Fitbit said.

The forecast contrasted with fourth-quarter profit and sales that topped analysts’ estimates. Earnings excluding certain items were 35 cents a share while revenue almost doubled to $711.6 million, Fitbit said. Analysts on average had projected $648 million in sales and profit of 25 cents a share.