GoPro Inc: New Product Timing Isn’t Everything

GoPro Inc: New Product Timing Isn’t Everything

Investors and enthusiasts have been wondering for some time when GoPro Inc (NASDAQ:GPRO) will release its next camera. Several reported release dates have come and gone, but the next one is coming up next month. So will there be a new camera in October, or will fans and investors have to wait until next year?

Stifel analysts are betting on next year, but they also say the company looks positioned for a strong fourth quarter even if the new camera doesn’t come out in time for the holidays. Nonetheless, they want to see a significant pullback in GoPro stock before bumping the company’s shares up to a Buy rating.

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Will GoPro’s next product wow fans?

In a report dated Sept. 2, 2014, analysts Jim Duffy, Molly Iarocci and Peter McGoldrick said they believe that GoPro’s next camera will indeed convince enthusiasts to upgrade while also pulling in “highly tech savvy newcomers” and convincing them to pay a premium. They’re basing this belief on speculations about possible features from market watchers and tech bloggers.

They especially see the expected photo capability improvement as being enough to whet their appetites. Another possible upcoming feature that they think will catch users’ eye is a better slow motion frame rate. However, without any major usability or form factor improvements, they think the current Hero3+ model is good enough for the broader market.

Why a 2015 launch seems more likely

The analysts said their channel checks suggest that inventories of GoPro’s Hero3+ product are “lean” in many retail channels. Their checks also suggest that a first quarter 2015 release is more likely than a fourth quarter 2014 release. In addition, they point out that the company’s inventory levels at the end of the second quarter were “managed very tight.”

Of course the Stifel analysts said it would be a good idea if GoPro could get its new camera out in time for the holiday shopping season. However, even if the company doesn’t, they think it is positioned for a strong holiday season.

Significant pullback in GoPro stock needed

The Stifel team sees two possible scenarios ahead for the action camera maker. The more aggressive one involves the pre-holiday release of the new camera. That would drive upgrades for enthusiasts and support upside to their current estimates.

The conservative scenario involves strong demand for GoPro’s legacy cameras during the holiday season. The company could then use that demand to start repositioning its product line, for example, by adjusting the prices. That would set the stage for a first quarter release, thus kicking off a strong start to the 2015 fiscal year.

The Stifel team continues to rate GoPro as a Hold and said that there just isn’t sufficient potential for upside to justify a Buy rating. They would become “more constructive” if GoPro stock pulled back to the mid-$30s range.

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