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Ambarella's Guidance Doesn't Spell Doom for GoPro

By Steve Symington - Sep 3, 2015 at 8:00AM

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GoPro fell more than 10% Wednesday after its chip supplier offered "disappointing" guidance. Here's why the market is getting it wrong.

After Ambarella (AMBA -5.27%) announced fiscal second-quarter results on Tuesday evening, it was surprising at first to see shares of the video chip maker plunge as much as 16% on Wednesday. After all, Ambarella easily beat analysts' expectations for both revenue (up 79.3% year over year) and earnings per share (up 138%), driven by broad growth in multiple markets from wearable cameras to IP security, drones, and automotive video recorders.

It began to make sense however, when Ambarella offered current-quarter guidance for revenue to climb in the more modest year-over-year range of 37% and 42% -- the midpoint of which sat slightly below Wall Street's consensus estimates for 40.6% growth. For that, Ambarella said investors can primarily thank an expected sequential and year-over-year decline in sales from the wearable camera segment.

Collateral damage
Consequently, many investors took this as a harbinger of bad things to come from wearable action camera specialist GoPro (GPRO -5.99%), shares of which fell as much as 10.6% early Wednesday before closing down roughly 5.6%.

But while that correlation seemed fair enough considering GoPro regularly comprises at least a quarter of Ambarella's total revenue, I think the market is getting this one wrong.

Why GoPro is doing just fine
First, consider that Ambarella's impending decline in wearable camera revenue isn't from a lack of demand for its products, but rather due to the earlier-than-usual launches of several large new products in fiscal Q2. Those launches notably include two new cameras from GoPro, the HERO4 Session and HERO+ LCD, and one from newer market entrant Xiaomi.

When asked during the subsequent conference call about the effect of order timing, Ambarella CFO George Laplante elaborated:

I think the major change that you see is product launches occurred in Q2 rather than Q3. Historically Q3 has always been our seasonally high quarter, but because the launches occurred in Q2, I think we really have to look at the average of Q2 and Q3 as to volumes in that marketplace. Other than that change, I don't see any difference in the seasonality going forward.

Sure enough, earlier in the call Laplante had already pointed out the average of Q2 and Q3 unit shipments was in line with Ambarella's growth expectations for the wearable camera market. What's more -- and putting aside the fact Ambarella's guidance wasn't far off the mark, anyway -- Ambarella already warned investors of a second-half moderation in growth during its fiscal first-quarter conference call three months ago.

"As we have said in the past," Laplante explained at the time, "the initial ramp of products may not necessarily be indicative of the sustained run rate for the products as it takes several quarters to determine market acceptance."

And while some media outlets have noted GoPro hasn't responded to requests for comment, the camera maker shouldn't need to do so if nothing has changed since it provided optimistic guidance with its last quarterly call in late July. For perspective, that guidance calls for GoPro's third-quarter revenue to climb to a range of $430 million to $445 million (or 56% growth at the midpoint), with earnings per share of $0.29 to $0.32. By contrast, analysts are slightly more optimistic with consensus estimates calling for revenue to grow 57.1% to $439.8 million, with earnings of $0.31 per share. To be fair, keep in mind GoPro hasn't missed expectations since it went public in June 2014.

It remains to be seen whether that will happen for the first time when GoPro reports third-quarter results in October remains to be seen. But with all things considered, it seems premature at best to declare Ambarella's guidance to be bad news for GoPro right now.

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Stocks Mentioned

Ambarella, Inc. Stock Quote
Ambarella, Inc.
$73.19 (-5.27%) $-4.07
GoPro, Inc. Stock Quote
GoPro, Inc.
$6.28 (-5.99%) $0.40

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