Fossil Group Inc. is set to buy wearable tech-maker Misfit Inc. for $260 million.
The acquisition will give the watch firm a platform in wearable technology. While apparel firms typically buy tech platforms to help with logistics or e-commerce, it is rare for a fashion company to acquire a tech firm that is fashion-related on the product side. Fossil said the purchase will give the company the ability to offer consumers traditional watches as well as connected devices. Fossil last month showcased its first connected accessories product line, called Fossil Q.
The acquisition couldn’t have come at a better time for a company that needs to show Wall Street it knows how to grow the business. Fossil on Thursday posted third-quarter results after the markets closed that managed to beat Wall Street’s consensus estimate on an earnings-per-share basis, but then provided guidance that disappointed investors after the company projected declining sales for the fourth quarter and fiscal 2015. Shares of Fossil slipped 2 percent to close at $51.01, but then dropped another 15.1 percent to $43.31 in after-market trading.
For the three months ended Oct. 3, net income fell 44.6 percent to $57.5 million, or $1.19 a diluted share, from $103.7 million, or $1.96, a year ago. Net sales decreased 13.8 percent to $771.3 million from $894.5 million. Wall Street was expecting EPS of $1.13 on sales of $794.4 million.
The company said for fiscal 2015, it expects diluted EPS in the range of $4.15 to $4.75, with net sales decreasing between 8 percent and 10.5 percent. For the fourth quarter, it forecast diluted EPS in the range of $1.05 to $1.65, and net sales to decline in the range of 7 percent to 16 percent.
Kosta Kartsotis, chairman and chief executive officer, told Wall Street analysts during a conference call, “We know the customers are interested in technology and Fossil Q allows us to bring together fashion and function in the assortment. The reaction has been very positive not only to the product, but the entire platform including the software application developed for users.”
He said the acquisition of Misfit “will allow us to combine our key competitive advantages in design, sourcing, distribution and powerful brands with a business that is already a recognized player in technology infused accessories and [that] possesses a world-class software and hardware engineering team to stay ahead of the emerging technology trends.”
Kartsotis said Sonny Vu, Misfit’s founder, will join Fossil as president and chief technology officer of connected devices. The rest of the Misfit team, about 200, will become a part of Fossil as well.
“With the acquisition of Misfit, Fossil Group will be uniquely positioned to lead the convergence of style and technology to become a fashion gateway to the high-growth wearable technology and connected device markets. This acquisition accelerates our ability to compete in the connected accessory space,” the ceo said.
According to Kartsotis, the company plans to integrate Misfit’s technology platform into its Fossil and Skagen brands. He also said Misfit is a global leader in the activity tracker space, a category that the ceo described as “one of the fastest-growing segments in accessories, given strong consumer interest in learning more about health, wellness and improving the quality of life.”
He acknowledged that Fossil has been facing some headwinds, mostly because its core business has been lacking in technology, and that “this acquisition will allow us to quickly start turning those headwinds into tailwinds.”
In a telephone interview, Greg McKelvey, chief marketing and digital strategy officer, said Fossil sees technology as a very large, growing category, with wrist-wearing devices about two-thirds of the wearables space. As for the integration of the two businesses, “We believe technology will be pervasive throughout our product lines, enhancing functionality without compromising on design,” McKelvey said.
He cited activity trackers, smart watches and watches that are smarter as the current three areas where there’s consumer interest. Watches that are smarter differ from smart phones because they are traditional analog watches that, underneath, can be embedded with technology to provide activity tracking and notification. In contrast, smart watches are bulkier because of their display screens.
Vu, who founded Misfit in 2011, said in the telephone interview he sees the technological application capable of being expanded for other uses: identification, as an unlocking mechanism for mobile payments; safety, similar in concept to necklaces seniors wear with an accessible button to call for help, and control, such as using an app with connected devices to turn on and off lights.
According to McKelvey, the movement into the wearable tech space could also enhance other product offerings from the company, such as handbags and other accessories with recharging capabilities built in.
McKelvey said Misfit’s technology will be “very material [to Fossil] in 2016, driving our product road map.”