Shares of Fitbit (FIT) opened sharply higher on Thursday after posting well-received financial results. The stock opened above $6, and while that may not seem like a big number, you have to go back nearly two months to find the last time Fitbit stock was trading north of $6. You have to go all the way back to late January to find the last time shares of the activity tracker traded above Thursday's intraday highs.
It's not fair for bulls to gloat. The stock is still trading lower so far in 2017, and that's after shedding 75% of its value last year. Revenue plummeted 41% to $298.9 million in the first quarter, and Fitbit reversed a year-ago profit by posting an adjusted deficit of $0.15 a share this time around. The stock is rallying because analysts were holding out for far worse, and that's a relative win in a world of absolutes.
The good times don't have to end at Thursday's open. Let's go over a few of the things that need to happen to keep Fitbit stock rolling beyond Thursday's bounce.
1. New products need to keep rolling out
New gadgetry is the lifeblood of most consumer electronics companies, but Fitbit is an extreme example. A whopping 84% of its quarter's sales came from three products: Fitbit Charge 2, Fitbit Alta HR, and Fitbit Flex 2. None of those devices was around a year ago.
The Alta HR was supposed to roll out in early April, but it hit retailers in late March. Fitbit's revenue would've been a bit lower if Alta HR hadn't snuck into the first quarter, illustrating the importance of timing. Retailers are skittish of stocking fitness trackers as market demand is generally waning, and shiny new gadgetry is what will win shelf space.
Shares of Fitbit took a hit late last month on reports of delays with its upcoming smartwatch update. Mr. Market knows what's up. Fitbit lives and dies on the strength of its hottest new wrist huggers.
2. Fitbit's smartwatch needs to be a game changer
Fitbit dove into the smartwatch market a year ago with the introduction of Blaze. It fared well initially, moving more than a million units during the first quarter. However, these days, you're not moving a lot smartwatches unless your name is Apple (AAPL -0.99%).
There's a lot of hope and no doubt a fair bit of hype surrounding Fitbit's next move. It acquired the assets of smartwatch pioneer Pebble for a pittance last year, and reports claiming to have leaked photos show that Fitbit's new smartwatch will offer more of the functionality found in Apple Watch and other traditional peers.
No one is catching up to Apple in this niche, but Fitbit's growing installed base makes it a potential force if it's able to launch a feasible smartwatch on time.
3. The positive surprises need to keep coming
The early release of Alta HR helped land Fitbit at the high end of its top-line guidance for the first quarter, but its decision to stick with the same full-year guidance it issued in early February suggests that nothing has really changed at Fitbit.
Fitbit was able to time product rollouts to post better-than-expected results this week, but the real test will come during the current quarter. Can it pull another beat out of its hat? Comparisons will get easier during the second half of this year since revenue was already decelerating during the latter half of last year. The second quarter will be where Fitbit has to impress on both ends of the income statement, just as it did during the first quarter.