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GoPro Hires Veteran Apple Designer, Shares Surge 19%

Shares of GoPro, Inc. GPRO had their best trading session in almost two years yesterday and soared 19% on huge volumes after the action camera maker announced that it has hired one of Apple Inc.'s AAPL elite hardware designers.

Danny Coster, an Apple veteran, has been named the Vice President of Design for GoPro. Coster will be involved in all aspects of design for the firm, from software to hardware to services.

What Coster Brings to the Table

As a core member of Apple’s elite industrial design team for over 20 years, Coster influenced the design of a range of flagship products for Apple, from iPhone 4 to the iPad wireless keyboard. He holds over 500 design patents and several utility patents.

The hiring might just prove to be a much-needed shot in the arm for GoPro, which is suffering flagging demand for its action cameras. The company needs a fresh design perspective in order to make its devices and software solutions easier to use.

Furthermore, later this year, GoPro is slated to release its first quadcopter drone – Karma – with inbuilt GoPro camera technology. The company also needs to diversify its categories of cameras, in order to appeal to a wider customer base and spur sales.

It thus seems that Coster has plenty of opportunities to do something new at GoPro. He holds immense experience in restoring products back to their basic elements. With GoPro trying to push into the mainstream market lately, the timing couldn’t be better.

A Rough Ride for GoPro

Since its phenomenal IPO in 2014, GoPro has been struggling to sustain its momentum. The company’s operating performance has suffered due to weakness in its core business of wearable cameras.

GoPro has had a particularly rough time this year, with dismal fourth-quarter 2015 earnings and a bleak outlook, which was even worse than what analysts had feared. (Read More: GoPro's Q4 Earnings Miss Worse than Feared, Shares Dive)

Shareholders, plagued by revenue shortfalls and concerns about the company's innovation capabilities, have punished the stock in recent times. Even after the 19% jump yesterday, its shares are still down almost 23% this year. The stock has tumbled 70% over the past one year.

GoPro's fall from grace was led by the probable saturation of the market for wearable cameras, which was supplemented by intense competition from overseas manufacturers and smartphone technology. GoPro also showed very little mainstream market potential to cater to the average consumer.

When combined with some product missteps and strategic pricing errors, the conditions spelled doom for GoPro.

A Turnaround in the Cards?

However, GoPro has been trying to push into the mainstream market in recent times. Also, it is pulling all stops to persuade investors of its progress on upgrading software editing capabilities for its action cameras, having acquired two mobile video editing companies for the same.

In its attempts to turn fortunes around, the company is exploring several new revenue streams, including a quadcopter drone, Virtual Reality cameras and licensing content shot on its cameras to media companies.

Coster can help GoPro capitalize on its brand strength by designing new product categories and spurring innovation within current products.

GoPro currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). A couple of better-ranked stocks from the same space are Emerson Electric Co. EMR and ESCO Technologies Inc. ESE, both holding a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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