FitBit (FIT) shares popped 48% to almost $30 per share on its first day of trading after pricing its IPO at $20 per share last June. However, even after selling over 21 million devices last year, shares of the wearable wristband company have fallen below $15 over concerns that the hype surrounding the “quantified self” as the next step in fitness and digital health was overdone.
Now almost one year after becoming a public company, Fitbit is one of the most heavily shorted stocks in the market, with 85% of the float short as of the end of January. The volatility could be seen in the name when the stock dropped 21% from $16.52 to $13.08 after its fourth quarter report on February 22nd that forecasted 2016 unit growth in the low-30% range vs 56% in the fourth quarter.
CFO William Zerella joined Yahoo Finance to lay out the path of growth for the company, amid concerns surrounding hardware commoditization.
“Our investments in R&D support our focus on bringing both new hardware and software features to market that will continue our growth, and that have helped us become and remain the global wearables category leader,” he said.
And Zerella said that he doesn’t see threat of competition or commoditization at the digital health company, which was co-founded by James Park and Eric Friedman in 2007.
“Our market position is really strong...We’ve successfully expanded our share and continue to grow the company very aggressively,” he said.
According to NPD Group, Fitbit saw 79% of the dollar sales in the connected activity tracker category during 2015-- a category that more than doubled in dollar sales year over year. But Zerella said the company has significant room for growth from its current base of 16.9 million active users, up 52% over the end of 2014.
Last year, the company grew revenue just under 150% to $1.9 billion but has also been focused on profitability--earnings per share came in at $0.75 last year. “We’re very disciplined financially. We want to continue to grow the company rapidly but we also want to earn decent returns and generate good cash flow and good earnings,” he said.
Fitbit estimates that consumers spent more than $200 billion in 2014 on health and fitness services. And the corporate wellness industry--where Fitbit is expanding with more than 1,000 customers--is expected to reach more than $11 billion in 2019 in the United States alone.
New products could fuel more demand, according to Zerella. Fitbit most recently announced two new devices, Fitbit Blaze at $199.95 and and Fitbit Alta at $129.95, to build from existent products--Surge, Charge, Charge HR, Flex, One and Zip--and to increase already improving user retention further. Despite a strong holidays season, though, some investors are mixed about how these products wil fare. According to Deutsche Bank analyst Ross Sandler, "the receptivity towards the Blaze and Alta appears to be mixed compared to the strong reception a year ago for Surge and Charge HR, measured by the best sellers rankings on Amazon, but that should improve as supply shows up in the channel."