Action camera maker GoPro Inc. (NASDAQ: GPRO) traded more than 44 million shares on Thursday, its first day as a public company. Shares closed up nearly 31%, and the buying didn’t slow down until near noon on Friday. The shares posted a new high at $40.47 in the morning, up nearly 69% from the IPO price of $24 a share.
At the IPO price, GoPro raised about $427 million at a valuation of about $2.96 billion. Given the run-up in the share price, the company’s market cap now is around $3.1 billion.
Do the company’s camera sales support that kind of value? At the pre-IPO profit estimate for 2015, shares are trading at around 35 times projected earnings, not exceptionally out-of-line for a hot tech IPO, but still pretty rich. That multiple is likely due at least in part to the company’s history of posting an operating profit. Not a lot of IPOs can say that.
What could be the bigger driver though are GoPro’s plans to partner with Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT), Google Inc. (NYSE: GOOG) and Virgin America to monetize the videos that camera owners have up to now been posting free. The company claims to have the top-ranked brand channel on YouTube, Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) and Facebook’s Instagram. One estimate claims that 6,000 videos shot with GoPro cameras are uploaded to YouTube every day.
It makes sense then for GoPro to try to monetize this vicarious thrill ride by joining up with professional surfers, skateboarders, skiers and other action sports figures, who the company will teach to use their cameras, pay to have the stars make the videos and then post the videos where subscribers will have to pay to watch them. It makes sense, but will viewers pay for something they are used to getting for free. GoPro thinks so, and apparently so do investors.
Shares were trading at $37.69, up more than 20%, from Thursday’s close at $31.34, and up about 57% from the IPO price.