E Firm Says Buy Fitbit Stock, Contradicting Other Analysts

Research firm Craig-Hallum today started coverage of Fitbit (FIT) with a Buy rating. The firm believes that “all pieces are in place for a successful change in strategy,” The Fly reported.  Craig-Hallum initiated coverage of the shares with a $10 price target, nearly 90% above the stock’s current price.  

Craig-Hallum’s bullish take on Fitbit contradicts several firms that have had bearish views on the smartwatch maker recently.For example, Seeking Alpha’s Bill Maurer opined on February 26 that the company is “in big trouble,” citing its failure to use its “large cash pile” and its lower than expected fourth-quarter revenue. Maurer is among the analysts who were bearish on BlackBerry stock throughout its rally over the last year.  Meanwhile,  Barron’s quoted research firm Stifel as saying last month that ““We don’t yet see a path to profitability (for Fitbit) and are challenged to make a compelling upside case for Fitbit shares,”

Fitbit recently took a number of steps indicating that it is changing its strategy or at least its tactics. On March 13, it announced that it would launch Versa, which it referred to as “a mass appeal smartwatch” in April. Since the device will only cost $199.95, it appears that the company is going to try to further undercut Apple (AAPL) on price.

Moreover, Fitbit recently added two new members to its board. Specifically, it named health insurance veteran Brad Fluegel and Zynga (ZNGA) COO Matthew Bromberg to the panel. Fluegel could enable the company to obtain new partnerships with health insurers, while Bromberg could make the company’s products and apps more attractive to consumers.

I also believe that either man could be a replacement in waiting for current CEO and Fitbit co-founder James Park, who has been unable to convince many health insurers to partner with Fitbit, despite the obvious advantages of such partnerships to insurers. Park has also not been able to convince most consumers to buy the company's new Ionic smartwatch, despite its superiority to the competition when it comes to monitoring people’s health.

Disclosure: Long Fitbit, BlackBerry.

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