GoPro, everyone's favorite wearable high-definition camera start-up, did not disappoint in its public offering on Thursday.
On the company's first day of life as a publicly traded company, shares shot to more than $31, after pricing at $24, pushing the company's value close to $4 billion. Earlier stock estimates had put the company's value at $3 billion. GoPro raised a staggering $427 milion through the sale.
GoPro, which trades under the ticker GPRO on the NASDAQ exchange, is somewhat different from many other tech companies going public this year in a white-hot market for IPOs. For one thing, it is not running up mountains of debt. In fact, it's turning a profit. It also makes a tangible product.
GoPro reported $11 million of profit on $235 million in revenue for the first quarter 2014, ended March 31. That represents a 52 percent decrease in profit and 7 percent drop in revenue, compared with the same period in 2013.
For the full year 2013, ended December 13, GoPro reported $985 million of revenue, nearly double what it reported for the same period in 2012, when it also reported a doubling of revenue. Net income for full year 2013 was $60 million, nearly double that for full year 2012.
At the same time, GoPro represents a potentially good value to investors, according to at least one estimate, by private company data experts Sageworks. It has a price to sales multiple of 3.
(Sales multiples are useful as an indication of a company's present market value compared to peers. If a sales multiple is particularly high, it may indicate an overly-stretched valuation. Although some industries, such as social media, tend to have companies with higher multiples.)
While that's higher than peers such as Nikon and Canon, which have sales multiples closer to 1, it's still quite low compared to the valuations of other companies in the tech world. Twitter, which has tens of millions of losses despite strong revenue growth, has a price-to-sales multiple roughly ten times GoPro's.
Despite GoPro's stratospheric first day of trading, GoPro is not without risks. Like a lot of small companies, GoPro depends heavily on its charismatic founder, Nicholas Woodman, who was photographed excitedly holding a GoPro in his mouth to shoot the proceedings at the NASDAQ today.
Within the "risks" section of GoPro's S-1 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company listed that one of its biggest concerns for its ongoing success would be the loss of Woodman. "Mr. Woodman is critical to the strategic direction and overall management of our company as well as our research and development process... The loss of Mr. Woodman could adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results," noted the company in its filing document.
Woodman, who earned a salary of $800,000 and a bonus of $1 million in 2013, owns 49 percent of GoPro. Investment firm Sageview Capital owns 6 percent and Woodman's college chum Neil Dana, a sales executive for GoPro, owns 5.5 percent.