GoPro beat its revenue guidance for Q1 and grew year on year for the second straight quarter, though it’s still a shadow of its former self, with revenues less than two thirds of what they were two years ago in the quarter, and even less than the equivalent quarter three years ago. Meanwhile, it still hasn’t reduced costs nearly enough to get back to profitability, as its cost of sales was nearly 70% of revenue and its operating expenses accounted for about the same amount, leaving it with a -40% operating margin. That’s actually a slight improvement on a couple of quarters last year, but was much worse than Q4, The fundamental challenge facing GoPro is still that it’s essentially a one-trick pony in a market that has a fairly low ceiling at a time when smartphones and other product categories are beginning to be more meaningful competitors. It’s expanded into drones, but that’s an even more niche category than action cameras, and all its efforts at diversifying into content have failed. It may be able to bring costs down enough over the course of the year to get back to profitability but a return to sustained high growth still seems like a distant prospect.
Lyft’s Rapid Growth Continues in Q1, While Losses Narrow (Apr 27, 2017)
Following Bloomberg’s exclusive on Uber’s financials for the end of last year, which were provided officially, it now has leaked numbers for Lyft for Q1. Those numbers, like Uber’s, show very strong growth, though the implication that this has come as a result of Uber’s troubles isn’t supported by other recent data. What’s really happening is that the whole space is growing extremely rapidly and these two companies are capturing the vast majority of that growth in the US. The big difference between the two is that Lyft’s numbers show smaller losses in dollar terms, while Uber’s showed growing dollar losses. Lyft’s recent aggressive expansion is probably going to slow its progress towards profitability somewhat, but that goal continues to look quite a bit closer for Lyft than for Uber.
Nintendo Sells 2.74m Switch Units in First Month (Apr 27, 2017)
Comcast reported Q1 2017 results this morning, and in keeping with past trends, the numbers were generally good. It saw another rise in TV subscribers as the cable companies continue to take share from the telcos, despite the overall trend of cord cutting, and it also saw strong growth in broadband subscribers, which now significantly outnumber its TV subs. Interestingly, it also began placing more emphasis on its home automation and security business this quarter, and reported that it has almost a million subscribers, or around 4% of its broadband base. The big theme that’s emerging from this quarter’s earnings reports from these providers is bundling – Comcast continues to see the percentage of customers taking more than one product rise over time (it’s now reached 71%), while AT&T suffered precisely because it can’t offer broadband/TV bundles to DirecTV customers. The wireless-TV bundles it can offer aren’t the ones consumers are looking for, which makes Comcast’s push into wireless somewhat questionable too. At NBCU, we’re seeing many of the same trends we’ve seen before too – subscriber numbers and viewing are down, but contractual rate increases with MVPDs are driving revenue growth anyway (of course those rate increases are rising costs on the cable side). Ad revenue was down in the cable networks business but up slightly in the broadcast business despite lower ratings because prices have been rising, though my analysis across the TV industry suggests the rate of price increases is slowing dramatically. Comcast continues to be a powerhouse across the categories where it competes (which also includes movies through Universal) but it’s facing some significant headwinds in the form of cord cutting, ratings declines, and rising content costs, which are going to take an increasing toll over the long term.
Note: you can see all my earnings posts or all Q1 2017 earnings posts specifically by clicking on the relevant tags below.
★ AT&T Reports TV and Wireless Subscriber Losses in Q1 2017 (Apr 25, 2017)
Verizon today announced its Q1 2017 results, and they completely explained the company’s unexpected and rapid reintroduction of unlimited wireless plans in the quarter. Before it reintroduced those plans, it was on a trajectory for by far the worst postpaid phone losses it’s ever seen, and even with the little bit of growth it saw after the launch, it still had its worst quarter ever by some margin. Tablets also shrank for the first time ever, which in turn led to the company’s first-ever postpaid net losses in a quarter. Churn was up, average revenue per account was down… this was a terrible quarter for Verizon, only salvaged partly by the unlimited launch. Q2 and the rest of the year should be quite a bit better, but it’s clear that Verizon has been suffering recently, most likely at the hands of both T-Mobile and Sprint, which has explicitly targeted it in its advertising. Outside the wireless business, things weren’t that much better – wireline revenues were fairly flat, while margins improved a little. But there’s really no growth driver in the business at the moment, as essentially every part of the business is flat or declining, though the whole thing is still highly profitable.
Qualcomm has just reported its earnings for the March quarter, and one of the most interesting aspects is its commentary on its dispute with Apple. It says that Apple’s suppliers reported but did not pay around $1 billion in royalties in the quarter, which exactly offset the $1 billion Qualcomm is refusing to pay Apple under the Cooperation Agreement the two companies have, and which Qualcomm says Apple breached. Importantly, that Agreement ended in December, so there are no more payments to be withheld, which means if Apple suppliers continue to withhold royalty payments, they’d affect Qualcomm financially going forward in a way they didn’t this past quarter. As such, it’s given a wider EPS guidance range (25 cents) than usual (it was 10 cents in the last two quarters, for example) because of the uncertainty over these royalty payments (the math here is tricky but I reckon that’s about a $400m range in net income terms). Beyond the Apple dispute, the results are a little tricky this quarter because on paper they look terrible, with revenues and profits way down over the same quarter last year. But that’s partly because Qualcomm had to reduce from its GAAP revenues the nearly one billion dollars it’s due to pay BlackBerry as a result of arbitration between the two companies. The actual results are much better, in keeping with recent trends at Qualcomm, lawsuits aside.
Note: this is my first piece of commentary on Q1 2017 earnings. The Q1 2017 tag attached to this post will eventually house all my earnings comments for this quarter, just as the Q4 2016 tag does for last quarter and the earnings tag does for all past earnings comments. Netflix is also one of the dozen or so companies for which I do quarterly slide decks as part of the Jackdaw Research Quarterly Decks Service. See here for more.
Netflix today reported its earnings for Q1 2017, and the results were mostly good, with a few possible red flags. This year, the new season of House of Cards will debut in Q2 rather than Q1, and that makes some of the year on year comparisons tough. One of the results was much weaker Q1 subscriber adds this year than a year ago in the US, worsening what’s already been a trend of slowing growth for several years. Netflix is projecting something of a recovery next quarter, however. In some ways, the biggest news was the first quarterly profit for the international business, which has neared profitability in the past but been plunged deeper into the red by market expansions every time it did so. Now that Netflix is in essentially every country it can be, that won’t be the case anymore, so although it’s projecting a return to small losses next quarter, it’s now saying it wants to be judged partly on growing revenue and margins globally over time, which is a big shift (previously it wanted to be judged on sub growth and domestic margins only).
There were a couple of mild admissions of failure: customer satisfaction in Asia, the Middle East and Africa is not what it could be, and the company’s Crouching Tiger sequel didn’t achieve its goals for original content. Marketing spend will be up at least a little in 2017, and content obligations continue to grow. The company also made clear that the big free cash flow losses caused by its investment in original content will continue for “many years”, though it also said that it will eventually throw off significant cash when it hits a “much larger revenue base”, giving I think the clearest indication yet of what a long-term project positive free cash flow will be. In the meantime, it will continue to borrow to fund that growth. Domestically, profits are growing very rapidly, and the theory continues to be that eventually the International business will reach that level of maturity too and deliver decent margins. But in the meantime, a bet on Netflix continues to be a bet on continued high growth, something which certainly isn’t guaranteed in the US and may end up being tough long term internationally too.
Samsung sees bounce in Q1 ahead of Galaxy S8 – CNET (Apr 6, 2017)
The first part of this article suggests that the strong Q1 results Samsung is forecasting would be a bounce back from the Note7 debacle, but the reality is that Samsung already saw that bounce back in Q4 2016, which was its best-ever quarter for operating margins and flat revenues year on year despite the hole left by the Note7. This quarter would improve margins still further while also potentially maintaining flat or slightly increased revenues year on year again. What Samsung doesn’t tell us in these preliminary results notices is where the money is coming from, but last quarter semiconductors made a big contribution, and it’s likely that this division is the big hero again this quarter. It’s by far the company’s most profitable division, and although it contributes less revenue than the mobile segment, its contribution has been growing there too. So although the Note7 rebound narrative is attractive, this is really about components not phones, as the phone business continues to be roughly stagnant rather than thriving.
Tesla Reports Q4 2016 Financial Results (Feb 22, 2017)
The last in our trio of financial results today comes from Tesla. This Wall Street Journal piece from this morning does a great job highlighting some of the investor enthusiasm about Tesla in the face of its continued failure to hit expectations and deliver on its own production and other promises. In the end, today’s results were a mixed bag – both production and deliveries in Q4 were down slightly on Q3 but well up on Q4 last year, revenue was up almost double year on year, and the Solar City business looks to be breaking even on gross margin. But overall, the company had big net losses, ate massive amounts of cash in the quarter, and continues to be a long way from its production targets for the Model 3 which is supposed to start shipping in July. It’s also about to embark on a huge increase in battery production, with three additional Gigafactories being planned for construction starting later this year. Meanwhile, the company’s valuation is now ahead of Nissan’s, despite producing losses and massively fewer cars – the power of trajectory and belief in a disruptive business model.
via Tesla (PDF)
Square Announces Q4 2016 Financial Results (Feb 22, 2017)
Square’s results were much better than those for Jack Dorsey’s other company, Twitter, earlier this month. All the important numbers are heading in the right direction, with revenue growth strong year on year, margins steadily improving and heading towards breakeven, the Starbucks business in the rearview mirror, and new more profitable businesses ramping up nicely. I tweeted quite a few of my Square charts earlier in this thread following release of the results – overall, there’s a lot to like here, and the long-term challenge continues to be driving scale while leveraging the payment processing business to drive new, higher margin revenue.
Fitbit Reports Final Q4 2016 Earnings (Feb 22, 2017)
I covered Fitbit’s preliminary earnings release a little while back, and we already knew these results weren’t going to be pretty. This was the first quarter of year on year declines, and also featured the company’s first meaningful losses since 2013, when it recalled its Force device. Its costs, especially its sales and marketing costs, rose considerably as a percentage of revenue, and its cost of revenue in particular was well up on last year’s despite the much lower revenue. As I said a few weeks ago, though Fitbit is downplaying these results as a temporary setback and promising a recovery, I see little evidence to support that assertion. Interestingly, some of the metrics Fitbit only provides once a year around user numbers suggest that it’s sold relatively few second devices to the same users – its registered user number is over 80% of its total number of cumulative devices sold, suggesting under 20% were sold as second devices to the same users; in addition, its active user number is now under half its total registered user number, suggesting an over 50% abandonment rate. Those two combined, together with the relatively small addressable market for dedicated fitness devices, are why Fitbit is having such trouble.
via Fitbit (PDF)