Piper Jaffray Says Buy Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) on Weakness, and Sell GoPro Inc (GPRO) on Growing Concerns

Piper Jaffray has converse perspectives when it comes to Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) and GoPro Inc (NASDAQ:GPRO). Though one analyst remains undeterred in his bullish conviction on Amazon’s long-term potential despite some short-term “margin clouds,” another analyst is sounding the alarm on GoPro as the removal of 2017 revenue guidance has left her questioning GoPro’s future. Let’s take a closer look:

Take Advantage on Amazon Weakness

As Amazon shares fall 4%, Piper Jaffray analyst Michael Olson emphasizes now is precisely the time to buy the stock, taking advantage of weakness following fourth-quarter revenue that underperformed and first quarter of 2017 operating margin guidance that did not surpass expectation.

From Olson’s eyes, the shortcomings make sense considering Amazon has been investing in various growth enterprises and is taking an aggressive approach to marketing. Yet, the analyst believes these “heavy” investments will pay off and not only will operating margin flourish by the second half of 2017, he sees no risk to AMZN’s margin growth prospects in the long-term.

Remaining confident in the e-commerce and online giant’s margins long-term, the analyst reiterates an Overweight rating on shares of AMZN with a $900 price target, which represents a 11% increase from current levels.

For the fourth quarter, AMZN posted $43.7 billion in revenue, coming up short of consensus expectations of $4.7 billion. However, GAAP operating income of $1.26 billion, denoting a 2.9% margin, reached ahead of the Street’s projection of $1.13 billion, signifying a 2.5% margin. Retail unit growth decelerated from 28% last quarter to 24%, but was “inline” with Street retail revenue forecasts.  For the first quarter of 2017, guidance anticipates revenue to range from $33.25 billion to $35.75 billion, under consensus of $35.99 billion. Meanwhile, the outlook for the first quarter of GAAP operating income ranges between $250 million and $900 million, meaningfully under the Street’s $1.1 billion estimate.

However, Olson asserts, “Despite the short-term impact to shares, we are encouraged by Amazon’s continued direct response to the innovator’s dilemma, rather than rushing to expand margins. Our long-term positive bias keeps us OW through lower-than-Street Q1 operating margin guidance; specifically, we expect 2H’17 op margin will expand by 130bps y/y as the company laps these significant investments that began in Q3’16.”

Overall, “We believe long-term fundamentally winning stories need to be owned through optically imperfect quarters – we believe Amazon’s positioning of same-hour delivery, its efforts in expanding the categories it wins consumers in (media, home services, restaurant delivery, etc.), its already dominant voice presence with Alexa, the development of autonomous consumption, the long-term opportunity in cloud, and long-term margin expansion created by leveraging new initiatives spending make AMZN a long-term winner among tech companies and tech stocks,” Olson contends.

According to TipRanks, which measures analysts’ and bloggers’ success rate based on how their calls perform, five-star analyst Michael Olson is ranked #160 out of 4,375 analysts. Olson has a 61% success rate and realizes 11.5% in his annual returns. When recommending AMZN, Olson yields 11.4% in average profits on the stock.

TipRanks analytics exhibit AMZN as a Strong Buy. Out of 30 analysts polled by TipRanks in the last 3 months, 28 are bullish on Amazon stock and 2 remain sidelined. With a return potential of 15%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $931.67.

GoPro Stock Is Concerning

GoPro shares are plunging 12% after the action camera giant’s fourth-quarter sales “missed expectations handily,” criticizes Piper Jaffray analyst Erinn Murphy. Even “more concerning” from Murphy’s eyes was GPRO’s revenue and gross margin guidance, which she underscores hit “markedly” under consensus and full-year 2017 guidance that had been in the double-digits has officially been pulled, promptly sending investors into bearish frenzy.

Additionally, GoPro’s team did not discuss cash flow outlook for 2017. In reaction, the analyst reiterates an Underweight rating on GPRO with a price target of $8, which represents a just under 18% decrease from where the shares last closed.

For the fourth quarter, GPRO sales hit $541 million, far below the Street’s expectation calling for $576 million, but ahead of Murphy’s less confident forecast of $515 million. Gross margins for the quarter reached 39.5%, just shy of the Street’s 39.6%. Furthermore, guidance for the first quarter of 2017 came up starkly short of consensus with margins, with sales guided to $200M, give or take $10M, and gross margins anticipated to be in the low 30% range.

With sell-ins negative and sell-throughs expected to race beyond sell-ins, the analyst points out this is considerably well beneath the 40% level GPRO encountered in the second half of 2016. Additionally, Karma’s margins are notably not as high as those of more traditional action cameras.

The analyst notes this fourth-quarter earnings miss arises “as Karma disruption impacts quarter & Session 5 trends underwhelm,” highlighting, “The Karma drone was noted as the largest challenge, which was originally planned to account for under 10% of Q4 revenue.” Consider that discontinued HERO cameras accounted for essentially 20k units of the unit sales that circled 2.3M. Meanwhile, because the Hero5 Black did not ship at the beginning of the quarter, the analyst believes the inventory for the Hero 5 Session at $299 “was higher than management would have liked” for the quarter.

As guidance for 2017 “becomes more opaque,” Murphy surmises her negative perspective on the stock, elaborating that preliminary guidance for 2017 had called for, “1) DD sales growth; 2) non-GAAP OpEx of $650M; and 3) net-income to be profitable,” concluding, “[…] mgmt said it was too hard to predict revenue for FY17 given we are in early February and the Karma drone just returned to the consumer market. Further, management is not speaking to its cash expectations. That said, they did sharpen the pencil with respect to their adjusted OpEx guidance–taking that to below $600M.”

As usual, we recommend taking analyst notes with a grain of salt. According to TipRanks, Erinn Murphy is ranked #4,249 out of 4,375 analysts. Murphy has a 34% success rate and forfeits 8.1% in her yearly returns. When suggesting GPRO, Murphy loses 0.6% in average profits on the stock.

TipRanks analytics demonstrate GPRO as a Sell. Based on 16 analysts polled by TipRanks in the last 3 months, 1 rates a Buy on GPRO stock, 8 maintain a Hold, while 7 issue a Sell on the stock. The 12-month average price target stands at $8.78, marking a nearly 9% downside from where the stock is currently trading.

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