June 6, 2018 / 12:30 PM / a year ago

Fitbit CFO quits to join autonomous vehicle startup

(Reuters) - Wearable device maker Fitbit Inc’s chief financial officer, William Zerella, will leave the company next week to join an autonomous vehicle technology startup as finance head, the company said on Wednesday.

Fitbit’s Chief Accounting Officer Ronald Kisling will succeed Zerella, who joined the company in 2014.

The company, whose products include Fitbit Ace wristbands and Versa smart watches, debuted on the New York Stock Exchange under Zerella’s guidance in June 2015.

“We do not expect Fitbit CFO Bill Zarella’s departure to create waves”, Wedbush analyst Alicia Reese wrote in a client note, adding that the transition is expected to be smooth.

Shares of the company fell as much as 6.8 percent to $5.82 in morning trading but pared most of those losses to trade down 1.8 percent.

Sales in Fitbit’s core wearable fitness trackers business has been declining as the company faces intense competition from bigger names with deeper pockets, such as Apple and Samsung.

The company reaffirmed its full-year and second-quarter earnings. The company issued the outlook in May when it came in below Wall Street estimates.

“Investors likely assumed that (Versa sales) implied an earnings beat in Q2 and possibly for the full year. Maintained guidance implies that Versa may be cannibalizing Ionic, along with continued declines in fitness trackers offsetting any strength from Versa,” Wedbush analyst Reese said.

The stock has risen over 5 percent this year, underperforming the 18.4 rise in the S&P 500 Electronic Equipment & Instruments sub index.

Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee and Vibhuti Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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