Fitbit Stock Has a Lot to Prove on Wednesday

By Rick Munarriz Markets Fool.com

A difficult year may get even harder forFitbit (NYSE: FIT)investors this week. The leading player in activity trackers reports quarterly results after Wednesday's market close, and it's not going to be pretty.

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Fitbit has already braced investors for a rough 2017. It warned three months ago that revenue would plunge between 22% and 31% for the entire year, and the comparisons will be even uglier earlier in the year when pitted against the headier performance of the first half of last year.

Analysts see revenue of $280.8 million, 44% below where it landed during the first quarter of 2016. Fitbit moved 4.8 million connected health and fitness devices during the first three months of last year, including more than a million apiece of the Alta tracker and Blaze smartwatch that it introduced during the quarter. We're not seeing the same kind of fanfare for Fitbit's latest gadgetry these days. The updated Alta HR did roll out in late March, but it's not likely to be enough to move the needle in the first quarter.

The news should continue to be grim on the bottom line. Wall Street pros are also holding out for a quarterly deficit of $0.19 a share, reversing a year-ago profit. There isn't a single analyst that feels that Fitbit will turn a profit this year, and most expect the red ink to continue through 2018.

Image source: Fitbit.

Going out for a run

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Momentum isn't in Fitbit's corner.Folks just aren't buying Fitbit trackers and smartwatches the way they used to, and Wall Street knows what to do when that happens. The shares plummeted 75% last year, and they're off by another 22% so far in 2017. The stock has fallen in seven of the past eight months.

Fitbit can't seem to catch a break, and last week its brand took a hit when a story broke of a Wisconsin woman claiming that her Fitbit exploded on her arm. Fitbit promised an investigation, and this week it concluded that the Fitbit Flex 2 did not malfunction. Third-party analysis lays the blame of the device catching fire on external forces. You can be sure that Fitbit will be asked to elaborate on the situation during Wednesday's conference call.

A silver lining in the recent gloom and doom is that Scott Searle at Benchmark initiated coverage of the stock on Monday with a buy rating. He sees the top dog in wearables transitioning into the promising digital health market, and his $10 price target suggests 79% of upside off Monday's close. A bullish analyst is always welcome, but one that chimes in just two days before an important quarterly report is probably a good sign.

Wednesday afternoon's report won't be a hotbed of profitability and growth, but with the market bracing for something horrendous, any glimmers of optimism that Fitbit can offer about the future could put an end to the stock's brutal slide.

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Rick Munarriz owns shares of Fitbit. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Fitbit. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.