Increasing Costs Spell Further Losses for GoPro; Avoid the Stock - TheStreet

Shares of GoPro (GPRO) - Get Report   have plunged 14% since the California-based technology company reported yet another quarterly loss

GoPro was a pioneer in the consumer action camera and drone space. However, waning interest in its products, rising costs and a disastrous recall have discouraged investors. Is there any hope for a turnaround? From its all-time stock price high in 2014, GoPro has tumbled almost 90%.

After trading ceased on Thursday, GoPro announced revenue of $540.6 million, a 24% gain but below Wall Street's expectations of $574.5 million. Full-year revenue dropped to $1.1 billion from $1.6 billion in 2015, a nearly 27% decline. The company's first quarter guidance of $190 million to $210 million was below analysts forecast of $267.5 million. 

One piece of good news: GoPro's 29-cents-per-share profit beat the consensus estimate of 22 cents. 

Still, GoPro faces big challenges to regain lost ground. 

The company hasn't helped itself with a string of misses even as competition has heated up. 

One of the company's most spectacular mishaps was the launch of its much-heralded personal drone, Karma. However, a flaw in Karma's technology caused a number of mid-flight crashes, leading GoPro to recall the drone. Days later, the company announced that it would lay off 15% of its workforce.

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GoPro was once a good company with an exciting product -- its wearable action camera. Sales of GoPro cameras had more than doubled each year by the end of the last decade. And Foxconn Technology, a Taiwanese manufacturer, bought nearly 9% of the company's shares in 2012, valuing the company at $2.25 billion.

However, in 2013, GoPro got even more ambitious with its foray into manufacturing drones. A series of unsuccessful attempts at partnerships left GoPro's drone division scrambling for a release; hence, the slapdash Karma.

Now GoPro has committed to investing major amounts of capital into fixing its tarnished image. But these costs are proving onerous.

During the fourth quarter, research and development costs increased year over year from $66.4 million to $92.7 million. And costs for sales and marketing rose from $82.6 million to $112.7 million.

These huge expenditures could be more easily forgiven if the company would paint a rosier picture for fiscal 2017. 

Although GoPro is optimistic about its future, it remains a risky bet. Investors who are looking for high-tech profits would do better to stick with a major player such as Apple (which just released a market-beating earnings report featuring a turnaround in sales). Even long-bedraggled, reinvented BlackBerry, which is showing signs of a comeback, looks like a better opportunity. 

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The author is an independent contributor who at the time of publication owned none of the stocks mentioned.