Shares of GoPro (GPRO -1.76%) have been crushed over the past year as the company's growth plans were called into question. When fourth-quarter results were released and management revealed that sales had fallen 31% to $436.6 million, it confirmed the market's worst fears.
But all is not lost for GoPro or its investors. The company has key products coming out this year that could return it to growth once again.
The next evolutions in video are 360-degree video and virtual reality. These two concepts have gotten a lot of publicity, but so far, they've been largely abstract to consumers. That's about to change.
GoPro is working with Google Jump to launch a 16-camera rig for shooting 360-degree, 3D photos and videos. Content from all 16 can be downloaded and assembled into a single video or photo that can even be uploaded to YouTube.
The great thing about the GoPro Odyssey is not just that it promises to create a new level of content, but that it also could drive sales. Initial reports say the system will sell for $15,000, but long-term, prices are bound to come down. The lowest cost GoPro is currently $199, so 16 of those cameras alone would be $3,184. If professional filmmakers find a use for this kind of content, this could be a big boost to sales.
While the GoPro Odyssey is built primarily for professionals, GoPro Spherical is more consumer friendly, and has already put out impressive content. The six-camera mount can be put on a helmet or handheld rig and create amazing interactive content that's already being tested on Facebook.
Since its acquisition last year of Kolor, the 360-degree and virtual reality software company, GoPro has had a spherical offering. But it wasn't until Facebook launched imbedded 360-degree videos that we could see a genuine use for the technology.
If the spherical product catches on, it will generate six camera sales per unit and over $1,000 more for a mounting rig and software. That may be worth it for the videos the new technology can generate.
360-degree video and virtual reality will likely be long-term growth drivers for GoPro, but in 2016, the "must see" product will be the Karma drone. Management has committed to having the product on store shelves by the end of June, and it could add hundreds of millions of dollars in sales during 2016 alone.
DJI, which is the hobby drone leader today, had an estimated $1 billion in sales in 2015 and GoPro could eat into that figure in a big way. I don't think it's out of the question to see $250 million in drone sales during 2016 alone, something I went into more detail in here.
The bottom could be here
While GoPro had its problems in the second half of 2015, it knows what areas it needs to improve, and it's working on them. One of those areas is software and another is broadening its offerings into new markets.
The addition of 360-degree and 3D video and images will be a big driver of growth as companies like Google and Facebook broaden their own content offerings will help show the value of these new types of content. The fact that GoPro is a partner with both companies says a lot about its place in the market. And the drone product could quickly become the "must have" device of 2016 if it's done well.
I think 2016 sets up to be a good year for GoPro, and the struggles of the past six months will eventually be a blip on the radar. If that's the case, it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility to see the stock double or even triple from its current price, and that's potential upside I just can't pass up.