Consumer Electronics

Fitbit Shows How Broken Business Models Feel

Chris Lange

Fitbit Inc. (NYSE: FIT) saw its shares slide on Monday after the company announced preliminary fourth-quarter results and a business update. Unfortunately these did not live up to expectations. Much of this was due to a softer-than-expected holiday season.

As for the preliminary results, Fitbit expects to report 6.5 million devices sold and revenue for the fourth quarter to be in the range of $572 million to $580 million. The previous guidance range was $725 million to $750 million.

The fourth-quarter diluted net loss is expected to be in the range of $0.51 to $0.56. The previously announced guidance range was earnings per share (EPS) between $0.14 and $0.18.

The consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters called for $0.17 in EPS and $738.16 million in revenue.

The company also will conduct a reorganization of its business, namely reducing its workforce. Fitbit will be laying off 110 employees which is about 6% of the firm’s total global workforce.

James Park, Fitbit co-founder and CEO, commented:

Fourth quarter results are expected to be below our prior guidance range; however, we are confident this performance is not reflective of the value of our brand, market-leading platform, and company’s long-term potential. While we have experienced softer-than-expected holiday demand for trackers in our most mature markets, especially during Black Friday, we have continued to grow rapidly in select markets like EMEA, where revenue grew 58% during the fourth quarter. To address this reduction in growth and what we believe is a temporary slowdown and transition period, we are taking clear steps to reduce operating costs. Looking forward, we believe Fitbit is in a unique position to stimulate new areas of demand by leveraging the data we collect to deliver a more personalized experience while developing upgraded versions of existing products and launching additional products to expand into new categories. As the overall wearable category leader, we exited the year with an engaged community of over 23.2 million active users, making us uniquely positioned to be the partner of choice for the healthcare ecosystem, which is a key component of our long-term strategy.

Excluding Monday’s move, Fitbit has underperformed the broad markets, with the stock down about 1.5% year to date. Over the past 52 weeks, the stock was down 57%.

Shares of Fitbit were last seen down more than 12% at $6.30, with a consensus analyst price target of $10.53 and a 52-week trading range of $6.17 to $18.85.