Fitbit (FIT) is rewarding shareholders for a change. Shares of the wearable fitness leader rose 10.3% last week, moving higher after the company announced the retail availability of its long-awaited smartwatch. Fitbit was also accepted into a pilot Food and Drug Administration program that could help it speed up the development of digital health products.
Fitbit stock closed out September with a 15% gain, and that's on top of a double-digit pop in August. This is the first time in more than a year that Fitbit shares have moved higher in back-to-back months, soaring 34% higher over the past two months. Fitbit stock has a long way to go to return to its post-IPO highs, but recent investors are cashing in on the stock's resurgence.
Step in time
Fitbit Ionic became available through several retailers over the weekend. Unlike Blaze -- the wearable that Fitbit billed as its first smartphone early last year -- Ionic is a more full-featured wrist hugger that's worthy of the category. Fitbit Ionic boasts a few things that the category leader does not, including a much longer battery life and the ability to play nice with non-iOS devices. It's not going to be easy for Fitbit. There's only one smartwatch that has reached critical mass. However, Fitbit's brand is well entrenched in wearable tech, and it's already selling millions of fitness trackers every quarter.
The FDA news could also prove significant. The regulatory agency accepted nine companies including Fitbit into the pilot program that hopes to make it easier for digital health tech to evolve. If pilot companies meet the qualifications for software design, validation, and maintenance, they could receive pre-certification status that would make it easier to get a new product to market.
Fitbit isn't in a good place right now. Revenue has plummeted 40% through the first half of the year, and Fitbit's latest guidance calling for a 22% to 29% decline for all of 2017 suggests that investors will have to wait until next year for a return to growth. All of this can change, of course, if Fitbit Ionic and its related accessories take off this holiday shopping season or if it lands some juicy corporate wellness deals for its flagship trackers.
The stock's recently buoyant ways imply that investors are looking beyond the current sales rut, but it doesn't mean that the gains have outpaced Fitbit's fundamentals. The stock has been depressed for so long until bottoming out this summer, and the headlines are starting to turn positive with the shares at their highest point since January. Fitbit has a chance to impress again, and it can't blow it this time.