Fitbit rules Q4 wearable shipments, but outlook disappoints
Fitbit has had sustained success in selling electronics designed to keep people interested in exercise. It’s probably not going to sustain that success much longer unless there’s some inspiration going on.
IDC reported wearable shipments for the fourth quarter of last year totaling 27.4 million for the industry, a 127 percent jump from the same time the previous year. Full-year figures amount to 78.1 million devices, besting 2014 by about 172 percent.
The fitness tracker manufacturer was deemed the leader for both measurement periods with 8.1 million shipments tallied for Q4 (29.5 percent market share) and 21 million for the whole year (26.9 percent market share). While both represent relative growth, — 52.8 percent and 93.2 percent respectively — offerings from Apple and Xiaomi are growing rapidly as well. Apple Watch shipments stood at 11.6 million after only eight months while Xiaomi shipped 12 million units, near a tenfold annual increase.
That dataset comes as Fitbit releases its earnings for the same quarter — and while revenues have skyrocketed over the past year, tamped forecasts have triggered investors to bail from company stock.
Q4 2015 saw $711.6 million in revenue, clear above analysts’ expectations and a 92 percent increase year-over-year. Whole-year figures jumped to almost $1.86 billion, more than doubling 2014’s intake. But while Fitbit is setting revenue guidance for this year to about $2.4 billion to $2.5 billion, the Q1 estimated revenues ceiling of $440 million disappointed investors on the street. Bloomberg tabulated a $485 million consensus estimate.
Thing is, doubters have tanked FIT on the New York Stock Exchange, since its high of 51.64 on August 5, 2015. Trading closed with the stock at 13.08, down 3.40 or more than 20 percent today. Investors are most concerned about retaining active users — Fitbit states in its earnings report that 16.9 million of them at year-end — and add-on sales opportunities.