Fitbit (NYSE:FIT) was one of the more volatile and interesting IPOs in 2015. After the company priced its June IPO at $20 per share, it made its debut near $30, then surged to around $50 in August. But the shares then lost almost half their value by the end of November. In recent weeks, Fitbit recovered to some extent, and it's about back to where it was when it began trading -- about $30 a share.
As a recent IPO, volatility is to be expected, but there were several major headlines that contributed to Fitbit's rise. Below are four of the most important positive events Fitbit experienced this year.
Fitbit rises on its public debut
Fitbit began trading on June 18. It priced its shares at $20 -- slightly higher than what was expected -- and those who bought in enjoyed an immediate 50% gain on its first day of trading. For a long-term investor, first-day performance matters little, but it still provided a sign that investors were interested in the firm. That positive momentum carried over in the weeks that followed, as Fitbit shares continued to rise throughout July.
Leading the pack despite increasing competition
Fitbit derives virtually all of its revenue from the half-dozen wearable fitness trackers it sells. Although its trackers are more specialized and offer better fitness-related features, the growth of the broader smartwatch market poses an obvious risk to Fitbit. Smartwatches, most notably the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) Watch, compete with Fitbit's bands for valuable wrist space, while offering some fitness features, like step tracking and heart-rate monitoring.
In August, IDC turned in its report on the state of the wearables market in the second quarter, a particularly notable period of time, given that it coincided with the debut of the Apple Watch. Apple's first wearable was a success -- it came in No. 2 for sales -- but it still couldn't top Fitbit, which sold around 800,000 more units and captured about 5% more of the market. In December, IDC turned in its third-quarter report, and Fitbit once again edged out Apple, topping the list.
Apple will improve the Apple Watch in the years to come, and it will remain a threat, but Fitbit's continued dominance of the wearbles market in the face of Apple's entrance was a positive sign.
Partnering with one of the nation's largest retailers
In September, Fitbit announced a partnership with Target (NYSE:TGT) under which the retailer's employees would receive a Fitbit Zip -- the company's least expensive tracker -- for free. It wasn't the first deal of its kind for Fitbit, but it was significant given the number of people Target employs (around 300,000). Corporate customers may be more loyal than individuals, and it may be easier to win over large firms than hundreds of thousands of separate consumers. At the same time, it serves to increase Fitbit's profile and strengthen its relationship with a key retailer.
All signs suggest a strong holiday
Most recently, Fitbit shares surged after the company's app soared to the top of Apple's App Store most-downloaded chart following the Christmas holiday. While it falls short of hard sales figures, that suggests there was strong demand for Fitbit's products this holiday shopping season, especially for first-time Fitbit users. Consumers who received their first Fitbit on Christmas would need to pay a visit to the app store to download the app to their phones. Given that the app topped the charts, there were likely quite a lot of them -- perhaps several million.