GoPro's Holiday Season Might Not Be so Bad, After All

Last month, GoPro (NASDAQ: GPRO) warned investors that, thanks to post-launch production issues, it would have trouble keeping up with demand for its latest HERO5 cameras during the crucial holiday season. But according to the company last week, that demand appears to be strong so far.

From left to right, GoPro's new camera line is comprised of the HERO4 Session, HERO5 Black, and HERO5 Session. Image source: GoPro, Inc.

More specifically, last week, GoPro issued a loaded press releaseproudly declaring that camera unit sales on Black Friday were up more than 35% year over year at leading U.S. retailers. Between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, camera unit sales also climbed roughly 33% year over year. What's more, NPD Group data indicated that GoPro's HERO5 Black is the best-selling digital-imaging device in the U.S. so far this holiday season.

Perspective is in order

That last point may not be saying much considering the capture-device market has been in decline of late. Last quarter, for example, GoPro's market share of the combined digital camera/camcorder category increased 80 basis points year over year in the U.S., to 21.5%, with GoPro cameras comprising three of the country's top five best-selling products in the category.

Its unit-share gains in Europe were even more pronounced, climbing 200 basis points year over year, to 11%.At the same time, however, GoPro's third-quarter revenue declined a harrowing 39.9% year over year, to $240.6 million.

Nonetheless, while there's plenty of time left before Christmas, it's encouraging to hear that sales of GoPro's newest cameras were up so sharply during the busiest shopping days of the 2016 holiday season.After all, around this time last year, shares were reeling after GoPro dropped the price of its HERO4 Session camera by $100, to $199, marking its second such reduction following its launch just five months earlier.

It also didn't help that the HERO4 Session was originally assigned the same $399 price of GoPro's vastly popular HERO4 Silver, creating consumer confusion at the top of a complicated six-camera lineup at the time. Incidentally, the HERO4 Session remains at its $199 price today, where it stands as GoPro's entry-level offering in a simpler three-camera lineup, and more effectively complements the new $299 HERO5 Session and $399 HERO5 Black.

But wait, there's more!

That wasn't the only news contained in GoPro's press release. GoPro also announced a companywide restructuring that will include closing its entertainment division, reducing facilities, and eliminating 200 full-time positions, or 15% of its workforce. As a result, GoPro estimates it will incur total charges in the range of $24 million to $33 million related to the restructuring -- the majority of which will be recognized in the fourth quarter. This includes $13 million to $18 million in cash severance costs and $11 million to $15 million in non-cash expenses related to stock-based compensation and accelerated depreciation from office consolidations.

The bottom line:GoPro expects the move to reduce adjusted (non-GAAP) operating expenses in fiscal 2017 to roughly $650 million, which should allow it to return to adjusted profitability in the process.

That said, at first it's admittedly tempting to think this was perhaps in response to the (quite literally) botched launch of GoPro's Karma drone. Early last month, shares of GoPro plunged after the company recalled 2,500 Karma drones-- that's every unit sold since the new quadcopter became available on Oct. 23, 2016 -- as some units were losing power in flight. Moreover, GoPro still hasn't announced a resolution to the power-loss problem, which means Karma stands a good chance of completely missing out on the holidays.

But we should also note that both GoPro's latest anticipated operating expenses and its impending return to adjusted profitability are in line with the company's prior 2017 guidance outlined a month ago.In the end, it seems GoPro is still on track to achieve its longer-term goals in spite of its Karma drone hiccup. And if anything, thanks to the relative strength of its camera sales over the past few weeks, GoPro's holiday season may not be as bad as some skeptics fear.

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Steve Symington has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends GoPro. The Motley Fool has the following options: short January 2019 $12 calls on GoPro and long January 2019 $12 puts on 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.