Any hope for a turnaround at GoPro Inc (GPRO -1.34%) seems to be getting more unlikely by the day. Not only is the COVID-19 pandemic taking its toll on retail and travel, but the economic destruction left in its wake may also have an effect long after life gets back to "normal."
The company has struggled to grow revenue or return to profitability even as the economy grew over the last few years. Now that millions of people are out of work in the U.S. and the economy is expected to contract for the foreseeable future, it's hard to see a recovery for the company.
COVID-19 has hit GoPro's biggest markets
GoPro has always touted itself as an action camera company. It's tried to branch out beyond snowboard and skydiving videos with drones and 360 cameras, but at the end of the day, the company is still an action camera company.
The problem right now is that travel is virtually shut down around the world. Ski and snowboard mountains are shut down, parks are closed, and the demand for action cameras will likely go with it.
First and second-quarter sales will certainly be hampered, but they aren't necessarily critical for GoPro given its reliance on the holiday season. But the COVID-19 crisis doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon, and neither will the aftermath. So far in the U.S., there are already 10 million people out of work and millions of small businesses are on unstable footing, if not worse, given a likely large slowdown in the economy. That could make a $400 discretionary gift a little harder to manage in the 2020 holiday season, when GoPro needs to have a big jump in demand. And it wasn't like GoPro was swimming in cash even when the economy was good.
GoPro doesn't have much cushion to fall back on
This is a time when investors should be looking at how much flexibility companies have on their balance sheets or how much of a drop in revenue companies can absorb without burning too much cash. In GoPro's case, the picture isn't good.
GoPro was losing money and burning cash long before we knew what COVID-19 was. And with $415 million of operating expenses alone in 2019, the cash will go quickly if sales tumble this spring and summer.
The balance sheet doesn't look much better. GoPro had $148.8 million of debt on the balance sheet at the end of 2019 and just $150.3 million in cash. Cash burn has been high in the last five years and 2020 may be worse than years past.
If GoPro starts burning through the cash it has, there may not be many places to turn. The stock is already trading at new lows, debt markets may be closed to such a risky company, and a bailout isn't likely. Financially, GoPro is in trouble.
GoPro has value to someone
If there's any kind of silver lining, it's that GoPro might have value to some other camera or technology company. The brand is still strong, and GoPro launched arguably its best products lineup in 2019. Maybe finding a buyer for the company is the best option.
Outside of another company saving GoPro, it doesn't look like the company is set up to last very long if the COVID-19 pandemic continues.