There's plenty of suspense as as we head into Fitbit's (FIT) quarterly report in a few days. The leading maker of fitness trackers will announce its third-quarter results after Wednesday's market close, giving investors the first official glimpse of the how the two products that it recently introduced are faring. Fitbit's Charge 2 and Flex 2 activity-monitoring bracelets that were introduced in September will have to do a lot of heavy lifting for Fitbit during the seasonally potent holiday quarter.
Analysts are holding out for $503.9 million in revenue, 24% ahead of where it landed during last year's third quarter. The path down the income statement isn't expected to be as kind. Wall Street pros see a profit of $0.19 a share, well short of the $0.23 it posted a year earlier.
Net profit margins have contracted for five straight quarters. Fitbit's push to introduce new products and the need to keep markups honest in a suddenly crowded wearable fitness market have weighed on Fitbit's bottom line.
Analysts taking sides
Wall Street's taking a stand ahead of the report. Wedbush analyst Nick McKay put out an encouraging report on Thursday. He expects Fitbit to beat market expectations given its expanded retail presence and strong consumer demand. He's seeing healthy demand for Charge 2, the $149 tracker that has a lot riding on its performance since it follows Fitbit's wildly successful Charge HR. McKay has a bullish "outperform" rating on the stock, and his $18 price target suggests 33% of upside from here.
A week earlier it was Longbow analyst Joe Wittine putting out a note touting the initial success Charge 2 is having. His channel checks were showing that the fitness tracker has at least met conservative U.S. expectations while doing better than expected in Europe.
Analysts weren't as unified in their support as the third quarter was coming to a close. Pacific Crest downgraded the stock in late September on concerns that Charge 2 was not off to a blazing start. That bearish missive was countered by Mizuho, which saw strong sell-through activity and largely positive customer reviews.
Fitbit stock moved 21% higher during the quarter, in theory raising the bar of expectations. However, the stock began to soften as the period came to a close, and the shares have slumped through October. The stock has now surrendered 21% of its value since peaking in late September. That was when Pacific Crest turned bearish and a pair of reports questioned the efficacy of fitness trackers in general.
The stakes will be high on Wednesday, and Fitbit shareholders just hope the stock works up a sweat going uphill instead of continuing the slide it's been on through the past five weeks.