2 Reasons to Avoid GoPro Inc, for Now

GoPro has had an impressive post-IPO stock rally, but looking ahead there are two key reasons to believe the easy gains have come and gone.

Jul 8, 2014 at 7:00PM

GoPro (NASDAQ:GPRO) shares were clearly underpriced at its IPO based on the stock's 30%-plus return since its public market debut. Yet, for investors still wanting in, there are likely two reasons to avoid the stock, which oddly involve the likes of Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) and Sony (NYSE:SNE).

Is 45% a blessing or a curse for GoPro?
Whoever said that the video camera industry was dead didn't consider GoPro. The company has figured out a way to catapult the space by marketing to those who wish to share their daily activities via picture or recording in point-of-view frames. Due to its rising popularity, the company's U.S. market share of the camcorder market rose from 11% to 45% over the last two years, according to NPD Group.

This market share translated into revenue of $966 million over the last 12 months and top-line growth of 87% from 2012 to 2013. However, with this growth and market share comes competitive pressure, or companies that may not have taken the camcorder space seriously in recent years.

Specifically, Mashable reported late last year that Sony was preparing to compete head-on against GoPro with its new Action Cam. Sony's new device captures a 170-degree field of view with various screenshots and dual-screen options that have made GoPro's hardware beloved.

Sne Cam

Source: Mashable

Albeit, the camcorder market is not make or break for Sony, as the diverse media and technology company has more than $75 billion in 12-month revenue. However, the company's size also gives it a distinct marketing and research and development advantage, with more resources available.

With that said, GoPro did note in its S-1 filing that many of its competitors are larger with more resources, which could cause a loss in market share. Undoubtedly, this is a concern investors must consider, and at 80 times last year's earnings, the market does not seem to be pricing in this risk for GoPro.

Could initial demand soon become excess supply?
Despite the likelihood of increased competition, let's say you're sold on GoPro's competitive edge and its chances to gain even more market share in the years ahead. Therefore, you may want to initiate a long-term position.

The problem for investing in momentum IPOs is a pesky little event called a lockup expiration, where insiders and other original investors are able to sell their shares in the open market. While trying to time the market can be problematic, buying before these lockup expirations has also proven to be unwise with recent momentum IPOs.

Take Twitter for instance, a company with very few similarities to GoPro with the exception of momentum following its IPO. Back in early May, Twitter shares lost nearly 20% of their valuation over a two-day span, adding to much larger losses in the months prior. Since then shares have recovered to trade higher by 30%.

TWTR Chart

Twitter data by YCharts

The reasons for these losses were expectations and the reality of a large and looming lockup expiration. Specifically, nearly 85% of Twitter's total shares outstanding, that weren't offered in its IPO, became eligible to sell during the expiration.

While shares of Twitter have since recovered, the overhang of the expiration did weigh on shares and affected the stock in the day proceeding and on the actual session of the expiration. For GoPro, it offered just 17.8 million of 123 million shares outstanding in its IPO. Therefore, 180 days following its IPO, standard for expirations, more than 85% of its total shares may hit the market. On that day we'll see if GoPro shares have better luck than Twitter's stock.

Foolish thoughts
Two serious risks facing potential GoPro shareholders are increased competition and the large number of shares that may still enter the market. As for the former, this includes large companies like Sony and is especially dangerous due to GoPro's enormous market share.

For the latter, a lockup expiration isn't just a one-day event but rather a signal that insiders and institutional investors can then sell at any point, meaning the stock's initial demand could soon become excess supply. Combined, these are two major reasons to avoid GoPro for the time being, or to at least be patient before buying the stock. 

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Brian Nichols owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Twitter. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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