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3 Bearish Myths About GoPro Inc.

By Leo Sun - Sep 15, 2015 at 9:00AM

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It’s time to separate fact and fiction about GoPro’s future.

Shares of GoPro ( GPRO 2.27% ) have fallen about 50% since the beginning of the year on concerns that demand for its action cameras could dry up. In a previous article, I discussed three reasons investors should buy GoPro at these depressed prices: cheap valuations, growth potential beyond action cams, and the overreaction to chip supplier Ambarella's ( AMBA 10.13% ) muted outlook for the second half of the year.

Source: GoPro.

Today, I'll shoot down three persistent myths about GoPro that might be discouraging investors from picking up some shares.

Myth 1: Smartphone cameras will kill GoPro
A popular bearish thesis against GoPro is that better smartphone cameras will eventually render GoPro cameras obsolete. However, GoPro cameras and smartphone cameras serve completely different purposes. iPhone owners are unlikely to strap their precious phones to helmets, bicycles, or surfboards simply because they're too big and fragile. GoPro cameras, by comparison, are compact and designed to take a beating. GoPro cameras also have wide angle lenses, a feature that smartphones can only mimic with clumsy detachable lenses.

That's why HTC launched its RE Camera action cam as a separate periscope-like device instead of cramming it into a smartphone. That's what drove Sony ( SONY 2.36% ), which offers some of the most powerful smartphone cameras on the market, to launch stand-alone action cameras to compete against GoPro.

Therefore, an action camera should be considered an extension of the smartphone, similar to a smartwatch. That's why GoPro is beefing up its mobile app and building a cloud platform.

Myth 2: Drones won't matter
With mobile apps on smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches controlling its action cams, GoPro can use those devices to control drones as well. GoPro has stated that it will launch its own quadcopter in the first half of 2016 to compete against early market leaders like DJI Innovations and Parrot.

DJI, the maker of the popular Phantom drones, generated $500 million in revenues last year and intends to double that figure to $1 billion by the end of 2015. Many of DJI's drones are already equipped with GoPro mounts. If GoPro sells $500 million worth of drones in fiscal 2016, the business could bring in over a fifth of its projected revenues for the year.

DJI's Phantom 2 with a GoPro. Source: DJI.

In addition to diversifying GoPro's top line away from action cameras, drone sales will generate more user-submitted content on the GoPro Channel, the foundation of its media expansion efforts. That content helps GoPro build its brand among enthusiasts and mainstream consumers alike.

Myth 3: You should worry about China
Earlier this year at CES, GoPro CEO Nick Woodman told the Financial Times that he believed GoPro had "every opportunity to succeed in China." As a result, the economic downturn in China caused investors to question GoPro's overseas growth potential.

Yet GoPro's overseas growth has remained robust, despite ongoing economic problems across Europe and Asia. Last quarter, GoPro's revenues from its overseas markets surged 126% annually and accounted for over half of its top line. That's up from 66% growth in the first quarter.

Sales from the entire Asia-Pacific region rose 183% annually during the second quarter, but it accounted for less than 17% of its total sales. China only accounts for a percentage of that slice, so concerns about a potential slowdown in Chinese spending throttling GoPro's growth are premature. Meanwhile, the slight devaluation of the yuan could actually boost GoPro's margins since its cameras are manufactured in China.

The key takeaway
During market corrections, investors should always look for stocks with cheap valuations mismatched with high growth rates. GoPro, with a forward P/E of 15.5 and a projected EPS growth rate of 37% this year, easily fits that bill.

In the short term, the stock might still be weighed down by short sellers or market jitters. But in the long run, I believe that current fears about GoPro's future will fade as the company builds its brand globally, reaches more mainstream consumers, and expands beyond action cameras.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis – even one of our own – helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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Stocks Mentioned

GoPro, Inc. Stock Quote
GoPro, Inc.
$10.35 (2.27%) $0.23
Sony Corporation Stock Quote
Sony Corporation
$123.86 (2.36%) $2.86
Ambarella, Inc. Stock Quote
Ambarella, Inc.
$214.50 (10.13%) $19.73

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