Why GoPro's First-Quarter Results Matter Less Than You Think

By Markets Fool.com

GoPro stock is soaring after the company delivered impressive first-quarter results on Tuesday and strong guidance for the current quarter.For the period ended March 31, the action-camera maker delivered earnings of $0.11 per diluted share, up more than 37% from earnings per share of just $0.08 a year ago.Meanwhile, revenue climbed 54% to $363 million in the quarter. Investors pushed shares of GoPro higher by more than 12% on the news.

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Yet, it was the company's optimistic outlook for its second quarter that really impressed the Street. GoPro said it expects a second-quarter profit between $0.24 and $0.26 per share and revenue in the range of $380 million and $400 million. That compares to analysts' estimates for earnings of $0.17 on revenue of $341 million.

While both GoPro's first-quarter earnings and its outlook are certainly encouraging, they only tell part of the story.

The problem with quarterly results
Quarterly results are an important gauge of a company's operational health. However, they often put too much emphasison companies to maximize their near-term results. This can distract from the bigger picture, particularly with a company such as GoPro that is still in the early stages of its growth story.

The mountable-camera maker is building a platform that would help it better monetize the content users generate while using GoPro cameras. Unlike traditional purveyors of cameras, GoPro's customers aren't shy about publicly sharing the footage they capture. In fact, the number of videos published to the GoPro channel on YouTube was up a whopping 93% year over year during the first three months of fiscal 2015,while views surged 46%. This tells investors that consumers are not only watching more GoPro produced content but also creating and sharing more videos.

"Building off this momentum, we are investing in talent and technology to capitalize on where we see content moving in the future," said Nick Woodman, founder and CEO of GoPro. One way the company is accomplishing this is through smart acquisitions such as its recent deal to buy virtual reality and media solutions company Kolor. In addition to complementing GoPro's dominance in creating immersive content, this acquisition gives the camera maker an entrance pass into the budding virtual reality space.

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Investors can expect GoPro to make other sizable investments in research and development going forward. While such investments will likely weigh on earnings in the near term, they are likely to pay off down the road as the company establishes itself as a media powerhouse. Partnerships with professional sports leagues like the NHL and video and gaming services, such as Vessel and Microsoft's Xbox, offer additional opportunities for GoPro that investors won't find on the pages of the company's quarterly financials. GoPro now collaborates with more than 130 athletes and sponsors over 80 major events, including ESPN's X Games.

Source: GoPro Instagram Photo of the day.

The success of this content is in many ways tied to GoPro's unique mix of both hardware and software, which makes it easy for users to edit and share the videos they capture. Consumers, for example, installed the GoPro Studio app for PC and Mac computers 1.7 million times during the first quarter alone.

GoPro's mobile app is also getting a lot of love these days, with 2.6 million downloads in the three-month period. It's not surprising then that operating expenses tied to software were up 125% year over year. Nevertheless, with this type of user adoption and subsequent surges in user-generated content, management's investments in software are not without merit. In addition to enabling users to easily share GoPro content, they also help GoPro enter new markets and discover fresh uses for its cameras.

Taking the long view
The takeaway here is that investors putting cash into GoPro today need to stick around for the long haul. The company is still in the early days of monetizing content, particularly considering the bulk of GoPro's revenue today comes from camera or hardware sales. Nevertheless, the significant investments that GoPro is making in its content business today should lead to richer cash generation from its entertainment and media segments down the road.

Ultimately, the fact that GoPro topped analysts' quarterly expectations doesn't matter nearly as much as the investments the company is making in its future.

The article Why GoPro's First-Quarter Results Matter Less Than You Think originally appeared on Fool.com.

Tamara Rutter owns shares of GoPro though she hasn't invested in ones of the company's cameras yet. The Motley Fool recommends GoPro. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.