GoPro Inc: Did It Have A Good Holiday Season Or Not?

GoPro Inc: Did It Have A Good Holiday Season Or Not?

GoPro shares dipped a bit during regular trading on Monday but still remain higher than where they were at the close of trading on Dec. 31. Analysts don’t really seem to know what to make of the action video camera maker, as some say it looks like GoPro had strong holiday sales, while others say the exact opposite.

So which is it? GoPro’s holiday sales numbers mean everything for the company’s next earnings report, which is expected on or around Feb. 2.

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GoPro’s holiday sales look strong: Morgan Stanley

In a report dated Jan. 5, 2015, Morgan Stanley analysts James Faucette, Meta Marshall and Yuuji Anderson said their checks suggest GoPro saw “strong” sales during the holiday shopping season. In their estimates, the camera maker sold through more than 1 million cameras just in December. They’re estimating shipments of 2.1 million units for the full December quarter, and they think GoPro will be able to meet that estimate “easily.”

Morgan Stanley’s positive report on GoPro’s holiday sales comes in contrast to Citron Research’s report on Monday. The firm revealed its short thesis for the camera maker last year, and this week a spokesperson for Citron said sales were probably bad because they did not find any evidence of stock-outs on GoPro’s cameras.

Update on GoPro’s channel inventory

The analysts at Morgan Stanley actually said GoPro’s channel inventory at the end of December appeared to be “a little lean.” They estimate that retailers, on average, had less than two weeks of inventory of GoPro’s cameras at the end of the month.

They think that inventory level “should be adequate” because after the holidays, sell-through rates typically drop. However, contrary to what Citron Research said, Morgan Stanley’s team apparently found evidence of “frequent stock outages” during the holiday shopping season. The firm also reported that smaller retailers didn’t seem to have received any HERO4 shipments. As a result, they think GoPro could see a benefit in the first quarter.

Average selling price a positive for GoPro?

The Morgan Stanley team said they’re “encouraged” by the product mix, as well as weak competition and demographics. They believe the holiday shopping quarter showed a mix shift toward the more expensive HERO4 Black and Silver models, with the Silver seeming to be the most popular consumer model.

As a result, they think GoPro will see a slight increase in average selling prices for the quarter. They’re estimating an average selling price of $278, and they think the company could see that number go even higher.

Much of Wall Street has been concerned about increasing competition for GoPro, and the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this week presents the perfect opportunity for serious competitors to be unveiled. However, the Morgan Stanley team isn’t worried about this because retailers suggested them that Sony’s and Garmin’s offerings don’t offer much “perceived competition” to GoPro. They also believe international demand is strong, based on anecdotal reports of “mass purchases by tourists.”

Morgan Stanley analysts maintained their Equal-weight rating and $57 per share price target on GoPro. They want to see more developments in the company’s video editing and automation offerings, which they previously said will be important for the company’s continued success.

Shares of GoPro rose by as much as 1% during regular trading hours this morning.

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