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What Investors Need to Know About GoPro's New Trade-Up Program

By Steve Symington – Apr 12, 2017 at 8:43PM

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GoPro is offering consumers the chance upgrade their old cameras. Here's why that's great for shareholders.

Listen up, GoPro (GPRO 2.44%) users and investors, because your favorite action-camera specialist just introduced a deal everyone can enjoy. On Tuesday, GoPro launched its first-ever trade-up program in an attempt to get millions upon millions of GoPro users to upgrade their old devices.

More specifically, GoPro is offering $100 off a new HERO5 Black (which carries a suggested retail price of $399), or $50 off a new HERO5 Session (which sells for $299) for users willing to trade in any previous-generation GoPro HERO camera. Consumers who'd like to participate need only visit GoPro's Trade-Up website, pick the new camera they'd like to buy, and follow the instructions to return their old GoPro.

Better yet, GoPro will take old cameras in any condition, whether they're merely dented or completely destroyed. GoPro will also cover the shipping costs along the way, and returned cameras will be recycled via zero landfill and appropriate recycling methods for their material type.

GoPro's HERO5 Black and HERO5 Session cameras

GoPro's trade-up program allows consumers to receive discounts on HERO5 Black or HERO5 Session cameras, IMAGE SOURCE: GOPRO.

"The modern GoPro experience"

"Our Trade-Up Program allows us to introduce existing customers to the modern GoPro experience and prepare our community for the new software enhancements ahead," added GoPro Chief Operating Officer CJ Prober.

To be sure, both HERO5 cameras are waterproof up to 33 feet out of the box without a separate housing, and feature hands-free voice control, superior image stabilization, better battery life, simplified controls, and 4K video capabilities.

And perhaps more important to GoPro, both the HERO5 Black and HERO5 Session are compatible with its optional $4.99-per-month GoPro Plus subscription service, through which the cameras can auto-upload photos and videos directly to the cloud so you can view, edit, and share them from anywhere. 

Of course, users who own HERO4 and older cameras can accomplish the same feat by plugging their devices in to a desktop computer, then uploading their videos to GoPro Plus using its Quik program. But GoPro also made it clear last year that they want to effectively eliminate desktop computers from their workflows to make content creation as seamless and convenient as possible. In turn, as GoPro founder and CEO Nick Woodman puts it, this should ensure GoPro is "conveniently woven [...] into people's lifestyle."

The effect of trade-ups on margins

That also raises the question: Will GoPro's Trade-Up program negatively affect its margin profile? Not necessarily.

These trade-up transactions will be direct sales to GoPro, which means enjoying juicier margins than it would if it were to include retailers in the loop. So in all likelihood the discounts will bring the margin profile of these sales to a level more in line with units shipped to those retailers.

That's not to mention the fact that a few weeks ago, GoPro announced it expects revenue in the first quarter to be near the high end of its previously announced guidance of $190 million to $210 million. GoPro also still anticipates it will return to adjusted profitability for the full year, and revealed its recent restructuring effort is now expected to reduce full-year adjusted operating expenses to below $495 million -- down from its previous target for 2017 adjusted operating expenses of below $600 million, and a massive reduction of more than $200 million from 2016.

In the end, I think this is a brilliant way to capture incremental revenue from customers who otherwise may have been content to let their old GoPros collect dust. If it serves to help accelerate GoPro's return to sustained, profitable growth going forward -- and with shares still trading around 50% below their 52-week high set just six months ago -- I suspect its stock price will inevitably follow suit. 

Steve Symington has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends GoPro. The Motley Fool has the following options: short January 2019 $12 calls on GoPro and long January 2019 $12 puts on GoPro. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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