Market Update: May 22, 2017

MarketUpdate_header

Last Week’s Market Activity

  • After hitting a new record on Tuesday, the S&P 500 Index sold off -1.8% Wednesday on fears the growing controversies around the Trump Administration will cause a delay in the pro-growth policy agenda, including tax reform, deregulation and infrastructure spending.
  • Stocks stabilized on Thursday and Friday, recovering ~1.0%, but pared gains both days going into the close of trading.
  • For the week, major U.S. equity indexes fell ~-0.5% as investors’ focus switched from political headline risks to positive fundamentals supporting economic and profit growth.
  • Financials were the worst performing sector (-1.0%) on the week, followed by industrials (-0.3%); defensives and dividend paying sectors in favor, with real estate (+1.2%), consumer staples (+0.5%) and utilities (+0.5%) leading.
  • The yield on the 10-year Treasury held steady around 2.24%, while the U.S. dollar lost -1.6% for its worst week since July.
  • Despite expectations for a June rate hike, the market does not fear an aggressive stance by the Federal Reserve (Fed).
  • COMEX Gold was +2.0% on the week; copper also climbed 2.0% Friday.
  • WTI crude oil rose +2.0% to $50/barrel on Friday, +5.0% on the week in anticipation of further Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) production cuts at meeting in Vienna on 5/25.

Overnight & This Morning

  • Stocks in Asia were mostly positive as MSCI EMG had biggest climb (+0.90%) in two weeks, led by commodity producers.
  • North Korea fired another missile, yet Korean won moved higher on naming of new finance minister.
  • Japanese shares were boosted by weaker yen and exports rose for a 5th consecutive month in April, up 7.5% year over year.
  • Hong Kong’s Hang Seng closed at its highest level since July 2015.
  • Australian stocks rose despite S&P reducing credit ratings for many of their banks on concerns over property prices and potential rise in credit losses.
  • In Europe, shares were up ~0.2% with gains in real estate, energy and mining shares.
  • German bunds slipped to 0.38% on the 10-year and euro held around $1.11.
  • European Union ministers are meeting in Brussels to discuss Greek bailout and refine plans for Brexit negotiations.
  • In UK election, the Tory lead over Labour has narrowed considerably, from almost 20 points last month to just 10 points this morning.
  • Commodities – WTI crude oil +0.9% to $51.10/barrel; COMEX gold slipped to $1254/oz. while copper is higher by 0.20%.
  • Major U.S. indexes up slightly along with Treasury yields as investors judge recent selloff on political turmoil may have been excessive.

MacroView_header

Key Insights

  • U.S. fiscal policy needs to become primary growth driver for 2018. President Trump releases his administration’s budget plans Tuesday, including economic projections and spending plans for federal agencies and entitlement programs. Congressional Republicans must first agree on a budget if they want to achieve tax reform this year; intraparty fighting must cease if Republicans want to maintain majority after next year’s midterms. History is littered with examples of “wave” elections after one party assumes power. However, if Republicans see an expiration date on their majority; similar to Democrats in 2010 and Republicans in 2006, these developments may result in more legislation passing. We are likely to see an infrastructure plan in the coming weeks and the Senate appears to have progressed on tax reform plan, which doesn’t include BAT or removal of corporate interest deduction.
  • Despite paring losses Thursday and Friday, risk-off vibe still apparent with dollar weakness, yield curve flattening, VIX higher, and bank, small cap and transport stocks all underperforming. However, there is little stress evident in U.S. credit markets with credit default swaps, investment grade and high yield spreads all contained. The economy continues to benefit from pent up demand in capital expenditures, housing and an inventory rebuild from a Q1 drawdown.

Macro Notes

  • Unofficial last week of an excellent earnings season. With just 28 S&P 500 companies left to report results, S&P 500 earnings growth for the first quarter is tracking to a very strong +15.2% year-over-year increase, 5% above prior (4/1/17) estimates (thanks to a 75% beat rate), and +11.1% excluding energy. Technology jumped ahead of financials and materials last week into second place in the earnings growth rankings (energy is first), while industrials, energy and materials have produced the most upside to prior estimates. This week 19 S&P 500 companies are slated to report.

052217_earningsdashboard-01.png

  • Guidance may be the most impressive part of earnings season. We were very impressed that company outlooks were positive enough to keep estimates for the balance of 2017 firm, amidst heightened policy uncertainty and the slowdown in economic growth in the first quarter. Consumer discretionary, industrials, technology, financials and healthcare sectors have all seen consensus estimates for 2017 and 2018 rise, as has the S&P 500, over the past month; and consensus estimates reflect a solid 9% increase in earnings over the next four quarters versus the prior four.
  • This week, we try to help investors stay focused on fundamentals. Market participants became increasingly worried that the Trump administration’s agenda was in danger last week following the latest news surrounding the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. After its biggest one-day drop in nearly a year on Wednesday, the S&P 500 recovered nicely Thursday and Friday to end the week less than 1% off its all-time closing high. We don’t know what will happen with the Russia investigation, but we think we have a pretty good handle on the basic fundamentals of the economy and corporate profits, which look good right now, tend to drive stocks over time, and are where we think investors should be focused.
  • This week, we also take a look at inflation. With the unemployment rate unlikely to go much lower, Fed watchers are becoming increasingly focused on the other half of the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate, low and stable inflation. Despite disappointing gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the first quarter, consensus forecasts indicate expectations of better growth over the rest of the year, which would likely be accompanied by an uptick in inflation above the Fed’s 2% target. However, there are still many factors that limit the possibility of runaway inflation. Better growth would likely give us enough inflation for the Fed to follow through on raising rates twice more in 2017, but we don’t expect inflation to reach a level that would push the Fed to move faster.
  • What does the large drop on Wednesday mean? The S&P 500 Index fell 1.8% on Wednesday and has bounced back the past two days. Nonetheless, Wednesday was the worst one-day drop since September and given it happened within 0.5% of all-time highs, the question is: What does a large drop near all-time highs mean?

MonitoringWeek_header

  • This week’s domestic economic calendar includes data on preliminary purchasing manager surveys (manufacturing and services) from Markit, housing, trade, durable goods, and revised first quarter gross domestic product (GDP). The Fed will remain in focus with minutes from the May 3 Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting due out Wednesday (May 24) and several Fed speakers on the docket-a roughly even balance of hawks and doves. We believe the market is correctly pricing in a June 14 rate hike. Overseas economic calendars are busy with a series of data in Europe, including first quarter German and U.K. GDP, German business confidence, and Eurozone purchasing manager surveys; and in Japan (trade, manufacturing and inflation data). Political troubles in Brazil may continue to weigh on emerging market indexes.

 Monday

  • Chicago Fed National Activity Index (Apr)

 Tuesday

  • New Home Sales (Apr)
  • Richmond Fed Report (May)
  • Germany: GDP (Q1)
  • Germany: Ifo (May)
  • France: Mfg. Confidence (May)
  • BOJ: Kuroda
  • Japan: All Industry Activity Index (Mar)
  • Japan: Machine Tool Orders (Apr)
  • Japan: Nikkei Japan Mfg. PMI (May)

 Wednesday

  • Markit Mfg. PMI (May)
  • Markit Services PMI (May)
  • Existing Home Sales (Apr)
  • FOMC Meeting Minutes (May 3)
  • France: Markit Mfg. & Services PMI (May)
  • Germany: Markit Mfg. & Services PMI (May)
  • Eurozone: Markit Mfg. & Services PMI (May)
  • Canada: BOC Rate Decision (May 24)

 Thursday

  • Advance Goods Trade Balance (Apr)
  • Wholesale Inventories (Apr)
  • Initial Jobless Claims (May 20)
  • UK: GDP (Q1)
  • Italy: Industrial Orders & Sales (Mar)
  • Japan: CPI (Apr)
  • Japan: Tokyo CPI (May)

 Friday

  • GDP (Q1)
  • Personal Consumption (Q1)
  • Durable Goods Orders (Apr)
  • Capital Goods Shipments & Orders (Apr)
  • Italy: Business Confidence in the Mfg. Sector (May)
  • Italy: G7 Leaders Meet in Sicily

Saturday

  • BOJ: Kuroda

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclosures: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The economic forecasts set forth in the presentation may not develop as predicted. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide or be construed as providing specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual security. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal. Investing in foreign and emerging markets securities involves special additional risks. These risks include, but are not limited to, currency risk, political risk, and risk associated with varying accounting standards. Investing in emerging markets may accentuate these risks. Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) are subject to interest rate risk and opportunity risk. If interest rates rise, the value of your bond on the secondary market will likely fall. In periods of no or low inflation, other investments, including other Treasury bonds, may perform better. Bank loans are loans issued by below investment-grade companies for short-term funding purposes with higher yield than short-term debt and involve risk. Because of its narrow focus, sector investing will be subject to greater volatility than investing more broadly across many sectors and companies. Commodity-linked investments may be more volatile and less liquid than the underlying instruments or measures, and their value may be affected by the performance of the overall commodities baskets as well as weather, disease, and regulatory developments. Government bonds and Treasury bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate. Investing in foreign and emerging markets debt securities involves special additional risks. These risks include, but are not limited to, currency risk, geopolitical and regulatory risk, and risk associated with varying settlement standards. High-yield/junk bonds are not investment-grade securities, involve substantial risks, and generally should be part of the diversified portfolio of sophisticated investors. Municipal bonds are subject to availability, price, and to market and interest rate risk if sold prior to maturity. Bond values will decline as interest rate rise. Interest income may be subject to the alternative minimum tax. Federally tax-free but other state and local taxes may apply. Investing in real estate/REITs involves special risks such as potential illiquidity and may not be suitable for all investors. There is no assurance that the investment objectives of this program will be attained. Currency risk is a form of risk that arises from the change in price of one currency against another. Whenever investors or companies have assets or business operations across national borders, they face currency risk if their positions are not hedged. This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC.

Here’s Why Tony Robbins Tells Millennials to Buy a House, Not a Home

© Credit.com Blog

For generations past, home ownership was a significant rite of passage that signaled stability, commitment, and, often, prosperity.

But, in this as in so many other cases, millennials are different.

As of 2015, adults under age 35 made up 19 percent of U.S. households but less than 10 percent of homeowners, according to a report released by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. In fact, in 2015 home ownership for that group fell to a historic low of 31 percent.

Entrepreneur and bestselling author Tony Robbins says that, while millennials might be missing out on the social upsides of home ownership, real estate is not the best investment they could be making

104353097-tony_robbins_painting.600x400

“One of the weakest performers [is] your own personal real estate, because it doesn’t provide much income,” Robbins says. “It’s an inflation hedge. You do a little better than inflation, and you can have your own home, so there’s a psychological, emotional benefit.”

Instead, millennials in a position to buy property should be considering how to do so in a way that will provide them additional cash flow, he says.

“If you can own real estate, real estate with an income is the one [form of] real estate that’s more valuable,” says Robbins.

104362668-home_owner.600x400.jpg

Opinions on the imperative of millennial home ownership vary.

Self-made millionaire Grant Cardone tells CNBC that home owners are forced to continue to spend unceasingly, and that he regrets buying a house at age 30.

“Unless you have 20 million bucks in the bank, in cash, you have no business buying a house,” says Cardone.

In personal finance classic “Rich Dad Poor Dad,” author Robert Kiyosaki notes that houses should be viewed as a liability, as opposed to an asset, and points out that it’s not a given that a home will appreciate in value.

“I am not saying don’t buy a house. What I am saying is that you should understand the difference between an asset and a liability,” Kiyosaki writes. “When I want a bigger house, I first buy assets that will generate the cash flow to pay for the house.”

Robbins emphasizes that real estate investing doesn’t need to entail keys and a welcome mat.

“You can [invest] through a REIT. You don’t have to buy everything, you get a piece of all these things,” Robbins says.

But whether millennials choose to spend their nest egg on a nest, or begin focusing on a portfolio instead, Robbins says the worst mistake is making no investment at all: “The most important thing, I think, for millennials, is to get in the game.”

 

 

Written By: Kathryn Dill
Source: CNBC

 

Market Update: March 27, 2017

MarketUpdate_header

  • Equities slip after healthcare reform shelved. U.S. indexes are tracking global stocks lower this morning after Congress was unable to push through the American Health Care Act, casting some uncertainty over prospects for tax reform as well. On Friday, the S&P 500 (-0.1%) closed modestly lower, dragged down by materials (-0.9%) and energy (-0.5%); utilities (+0.4%) was the best performing sector. Overnight, Asian markets were led lower by Japan’s Nikkei (-1.4%) on yen strength; Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (-0.7%) and China’s Shanghai Composite (-0.1%) fared better. Stocks are also lower across the board in Europe, notably in Germany’s DAX (-0.9%) and Italy’s MIB (-0.9%). Elsewhere, the recent weakness in WTI crude oil ($47.21/barrel) continues, while the risk-off sentiment is boosting COMEX gold ($1262/oz.) and Treasuries, lowering the yield on the 10-year Note by five basis points (0.05%) to 2.35%.

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  • Our Final Four factors in today’s Weekly Market Commentary. With college basketball’s Final Four set, this week we share our “Final Four factors” for the stock market in 2017. We expect a hard-fought battle between these factors and market risks. But when the “tournament” is over on December 31, depending on the path of policy out of Washington, D.C., we expect the S&P 500 to be at or above current levels.
    1. Economic Growth – We continue to expect a modest pickup in economic growth in 2017 to near 2.5%, based on gross domestic product (GDP), supported by increasing business investment, steady consumer spending gains, and, later in the year, pro-growth fiscal policy to be enacted.
    2. Earnings – We expect high-single-digit S&P 500 earnings growth in 2017[1], supported by better U.S. economic growth, rebounding energy sector profits, a stable U.S. dollar, and resilient profit margins.
    3. Corporate Tax Reform – Corporate tax reform, which remains the centerpiece of the Trump economic agenda, is still likely to get done in the next year despite the failure to get the healthcare bill through the House last week. The Trump administration will immediately pivot to tax reform, though a comprehensive overhaul will be difficult to achieve.
    4. The Fed – We expect the Federal Reserve (Fed) to hike interest rates twice more in 2017 following the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) rate hike on March 15. We are encouraged by the Fed’s acknowledgement of the improved economic outlook and its stated plan to hike rates gradually.
  • Down seven in a row. The Dow closed lower on Friday for the seventh consecutive session. The last seven-day losing streak was ahead of the U.S. election, and it hasn’t been down eight in a row since August 2011. The S&P 500 meanwhile has closed lower six of the past seven days. Taking a closer look at the Dow’s seven-day losing streak, it has been green at some point each day. Also, the total loss during the streak is only 1.7%. To put this in perspective, since 1980, there have now been 20 seven-day losing streaks. The average drop during the previous 19 was 7.3% and the current drop of 1.74% ranks as the second smallest loss.

MonitoringWeek_header

 Monday

  • Evans (Dove)
  • Eurozone: M3 Money Supply (Feb)
  • China: PBOC’s Zhou Speech

Wednesday

  • Evans (Dove)

 Thursday

  • GDP (Revision) (Q4)
  • Eurozone: Industrial, Services & Consumer Confidence (Mar)
  • China: Mfg. & Non-Mfg. PMI (Mar)

 Friday

  • Personal Income (Feb)
  • Kashkari (Dove)

 

 

 

 

[1] We expect S&P 500 gains to be driven by: 1) a pickup in U.S. economic growth partially due to fiscal stimulus; 2) mid- to high-single-digit earnings gains as corporate America emerges from its year-long earnings recession; 3) an expansion in bank lending; and 4) a stable price-to-earnings ratio (PE) of 18 – 19.

 

Important Disclosures: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The economic forecasts set forth in the presentation may not develop as predicted. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide or be construed as providing specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual security. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal. Investing in foreign and emerging markets securities involves special additional risks. These risks include, but are not limited to, currency risk, political risk, and risk associated with varying accounting standards. Investing in emerging markets may accentuate these risks. Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) are subject to interest rate risk and opportunity risk. If interest rates rise, the value of your bond on the secondary market will likely fall. In periods of no or low inflation, other investments, including other Treasury bonds, may perform better. Bank loans are loans issued by below investment-grade companies for short-term funding purposes with higher yield than short-term debt and involve risk. Because of its narrow focus, sector investing will be subject to greater volatility than investing more broadly across many sectors and companies. Commodity-linked investments may be more volatile and less liquid than the underlying instruments or measures, and their value may be affected by the performance of the overall commodities baskets as well as weather, disease, and regulatory developments. Government bonds and Treasury bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate. Investing in foreign and emerging markets debt securities involves special additional risks. These risks include, but are not limited to, currency risk, geopolitical and regulatory risk, and risk associated with varying settlement standards. High-yield/junk bonds are not investment-grade securities, involve substantial risks, and generally should be part of the diversified portfolio of sophisticated investors. Municipal bonds are subject to availability, price, and to market and interest rate risk if sold prior to maturity. Bond values will decline as interest rate rise. Interest income may be subject to the alternative minimum tax. Federally tax-free but other state and local taxes may apply. Investing in real estate/REITs involves special risks such as potential illiquidity and may not be suitable for all investors. There is no assurance that the investment objectives of this program will be attained. Currency risk is a form of risk that arises from the change in price of one currency against another. Whenever investors or companies have assets or business operations across national borders, they face currency risk if their positions are not hedged. This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC.

Weekly Market Commentary: March 28, 2016

Provided by geralt/Pixabay
Provided by geralt/Pixabay

Are corporations in the United States struggling?

In its cover article last week, The Economist (a British publication), suggested there is not enough competition among American companies. It pointed out:

“Aggregate domestic profits are at near-record levels relative to GDP… High profits might be a sign of brilliant innovations or wise long-term investments were it not for the fact that they are also suspiciously persistent. A very profitable American firm has an 80 percent chance of being that way 10 years later. In the 1990s the odds were only about 50 percent.”

At the end of last week, U.S. headlines indicated concern about declining corporate profits:

  • Consumers prop up U.S. economy, but profits under pressure
  • S. Fourth-Quarter GDP Revised Up to 1.4% Growth but Corporate Profits Fall
  • Corporate profits fall in 2015 for first time since Great Recession
  • S. Corporate Profits Fall 8.1% in 4th Quarter

So, are U.S. companies experiencing record profits or are they in trouble?

Last week’s press release from the Bureau of Economic Analysis indicated corporate profits (after inventory valuation and capital consumption adjustments) declined from the third quarter of 2015 to the fourth quarter of 2015; hence, the headlines.

However, a one-quarter decline doesn’t provide a complete picture of the health of corporate America. As CFO.com pointed out, over the full year, corporate profits were up 3.3 percent year-to-year.

Trading Economics offered additional context. From 1950 through 2015, U.S. corporate profits averaged about $395 billion annually. Profits hit a record low for that period, $14 billion, during the first quarter of 1951. Profits rose to an all-time high of about $1.64 trillion during the third quarter of 2014.

Fourth quarter’s profits of $1.38 trillion remain well above that average.

Data as of 3/24/16 1-Week Y-T-D 1-Year 3-Year 5-Year 10-Year
Standard & Poor’s 500 (Domestic Stocks) -0.7% -0.4% -2.7% 9.5% 9.2% 4.7%
Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. -2.1 -3.1 -14.1 -2.0 -2.0 -0.5
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only) 1.9 NA 1.9 1.9 3.4 4.7
Gold (per ounce) -2.5 14.9 2.5 -8.6 -3.3 8.2
Bloomberg Commodity Index -1.9 0.9 -20.8 -16.8 -14.0 -7.0
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index -1.2 2.7 -0.2 9.3 11.6 6.3

S&P 500, Dow Jones Global ex-US, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.

Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.

Gap Cuts Full-Year Profit Forecast as Dollar Weighs

The Gap store is pictured on Fifth Avenue in New York
Reuters/Lucas Jackson

Apparel retailer Gap Inc (GPS.N) cut its 2015 profit forecast, hurt by a strong dollar and weak sales at its Banana Republic and Gap brands but Chief Executive Arthur Peck said the brands would see a material improvement in spring.

A series of fashion misses, particularly in women’s merchandise, have turned shoppers away from the Gap brand toward competitors such as American Eagle Outfitters Inc (AEO.N), H&M, Forever 21 and Inditex’s (ITX.MC) Zara.

Gap cut its 2015 adjusted profit forecast to $2.38-$2.42 per share from $2.75-$2.80.

Net income fell to $248 million, or 61 cents per share, in the third quarter ended Oct. 31, from $351 million, or 80 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 63 cents per share.

Revenue fell about 3 percent to $3.86 billion, the company said on Nov. 9.

The strengthening of the dollar, particularly against the Japanese yen and Canadian dollar, hit sales by about $100 million in the third quarter, the company said on Thursday.

The company had earlier expected an impact of $98 million.

Gap received about 23 percent of net sales from outside the United States in the quarter.

Company-wide comparable sales fell 2 percent, dragged by a 4 percent drop at the Gap brand and a 12 percent decline at the Banana Republic division.

Gap’s Old Navy line, however, has been a bright spot for the company, attracting customers with its affordable-yet-trendy merchandise.

Tight inventory controls and short lead times have also helped the company offer fewer discounts at Old Navy, helping margins.

Comparable sales at Old Navy increased 4 percent in the third quarter, and sales rose to $1.62 billion.

Up to Thursday’s close of $25.09, Gap’s shares had fallen about 40 percent this year.

Written by Reuters

(Source: Reuters)

Fitbit Gets Boost As Wall Street Heaps On Praise

AP Photo/Richard Drew
AP Photo/Richard Drew

Wall Street released a deluge of positive reports about Fitbit on Monday, as the quiet period following its June IPO was lifted, giving the stock a boost.

Fitbit, which makes wearable fitness trackers, is dominating a fast-growing space. The company lays claim to a whopping 85% of the U.S. market, up from 59% just two years ago.

Fitbit is a “brand that has become synonymous with the category,” writes PiperJaffray analyst Erinn Murphy. In other words, it has become the Kleenex of fitness trackers.

Analysts are excited about Fitbit’s ability to continue capitalizing on the wearables space, which is hot and getting hotter. Consumer spending is growing faster on these devices than on any other consumer electronics gadgets out there, according to IDC.

“While some investors argue wearables are a niche or fad, our work suggests penetration is approaching levels enjoyed by notebooks in the US and will increase over the next year,” writes Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty.

Here’s what Wall Street is so rosy on:

Fitbit looks poised for long-term growth

Fitbit has room to run, agree analysts, who love that the consumer brand is so well-known. For instance, the company can do more with corporate wellness programs subsidized by employers. Right now, Fitbit gleans just 7% of sales from such programs.

It can also look to international markets to drive growth. It’s already the global leader in the wearables space, with 34% market share, but international markets remain largely untapped. “The bottom line is that very few consumers own fitness trackers to date,” writes Deutsche Bank analyst Ross Sandler. He figures that even 5% penetration in developed markets and 2% penetration in emerging markets would trigger demand for nearly 31 million fitness bands. (Last year, Fitbit sold 10 million devices.)

Plus, product innovation should help fuel growth.

“We believe devices are just one part of the Fitbit story – the part that is immediately visible and has been the growth driver to date,” writes SunTrust analyst Robert Peck, who notes that Fitbit has the potential to expand into fitness-oriented services that complement its physical trackers. Fitbit could become a “one-stop hardware/service solution to peoples’ health and fitness concerns,” he posits.

Deutsche Bank’s Sandler goes even farther, envisioning a Fitbit that goes beyond health and fitness: “There is no reason why your Fitbit device (in the future) couldn’t display email and text messages, turn on the lights to your home, unlock your car, and many other basic life-improving functions – in addition to tracking your health stats.”

Apple Watch is not a death sentence

The Apple Watch has gotten a lot of buzz and is frequently cited as a key threat to Fitbit. But while attention is great, buying is better. People are three times more likely to hear about Fitbit and actually go out and purchase one than they are an Apple Watch, according to a SunTrust survey.

This could change, some analysts point out, when the next generation of Apple Watch comes out and it becomes easier to buy.

Still, there are key distinctions between the two devices and who wants to buy them. For instance, Fitbit is cheaper and therefore accessible to more people. It also has a much longer battery life (it’s hard to monitor your sleeping if you have to charge your device every night) and you don’t have to own an iPhone to use it, like you do with an Apple Watch.

Morgan Stanley’s Huberty sums it up like this: “Apple is too big and Fitbit share too high to not assume some share loss but overlap will be limited by different price points and features.”

It’s actually making money

The San Francisco-based company swung to a profit last year, earning $132 million on revenue of more than $745 million. It has been helped by the rapid popularity of its fitness trackers: Last year it sold 10.9 million devices, more than double the 4.5 million devices it sold in 2013.

These financials are “robust,” says SunTrust’s Peck, who points to Fitbit’s strong revenue growth rate (up 150% in 2014) and gross margins (45-50%). He sees $140 million in profit this year on revenues of $1.4 billion.

Fitbit has drawn comparison to consumer growth stocks like Under Armour UA +3.61% and GoPro from several analysts. It has “superior growth metrics to-date,” writes PiperJaffray, and combines “a powerful consumer brand with technology.” Its stock is also trading at similar levels to other consumer growth stocks in the post-IPO period.

When Fitbit made its public debut last month, the stock gained nearly 50% on its first day of trading to close at $29.68 per share. Since then, it has gained 110% from its IPO price to $42 per share. Share were up another 5% to $44.24 on Monday.

FIT Chart

Written by Lauren Gensler of Forbes

(Source: Forbes)