What Gear Companies Do You Invest In?

What Gear Companies Do You Invest In?

I'm not talking about gear you buy. I'm talking about investing on the stock market. Many of the companies we as photographers use are public companies. For me, it's become a time to consider investing. What would you buy? 

We've got Canon, Nikon, Sony, Adobe, Apple, GoPro, Fujifilm, and Microsoft to name a few. If there's one thing we all know, it's that gear is important. And it's a sizable investment we have to make over the years. We do so crucially, without settling for a lesser product than we can afford at the time. 

Do we believe some of these large companies will grow in the future, and if so, can we invest to participate in this growth and have something to look back on one day? I mean, we believe in the brands we buy don't we? 

I am not a financial analyst or guide. I've just been following the growth and changes some of these companies have experienced, and I'm quite comfortable to let people know what I've invested in. I've obviously made a wise decision to do so only with money I can afford to lose, and it's not a over night scheme but a long game I'm a part of now. 

I'm busy looking at investing. I've only looked at the graphs for each company over the past ten years, and I've listed them below. I believe some of these are destined to grow in the future. 

The Companies I'm Investing In

Adobe

Since the move to the subscription model they're value has risen, and it's not looking to stop. Adobe also has a marketing division, which adds to the growth. As the internet grows, so too do the creative and marketing agencies.

Apple

People can say what they want about Apple. It's obviously a contentious issue for some, but, according to their stock performance over the past 10 years, it's not looking bad at all. 

Sony

Sony is almost dominating the mirrorless camera market, and the two giants of the past, Canon and Nikon, are playing catchup. Sony also supplies sensors to several phone manufacturers, is a maker of a lot of audio visual equipment, has music and movie production enterprises, so it's not just photography. But, for me, it's looking like the growth will continue. 

Microsoft

The company that I started a relationship with in the 80s have gone through incredible peaks and troughs, but it's always ended up growing, and they're always focussing on a new need to provide services for. In my books it's a yes.

Fujifilm

We all know of this brand as a company that gave us film stock with rich colors and grain. Look at the back of any photo in your printed album and I can bet it's either Kodak or Fujifilm stock. They were of the first to go into the mirrorless market with a camera that gave us the same feeling we got when we used to shoot on film. They've just released the Fujifilm X-T30, and according to the reviews it's a small but powerful camera. The company has repositioned themselves and now stand amongst the big names in cameras, and I believe they will continue to grow for the next ten years. 

The Companies That Are Struggling, But, Are Cheap to Buy Now

Canon

I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark III and I love the camera for my professional work. It's a powerful beast that has had some hard knocks but stood the test of time. Unfortunately they've had a tough time the past couple of years, and they have quite a diversified portfolio with printers and other optics, it's not doing to well. 

Nikon

I've always been a Canon fanboy, but I must admit that there are several things that the Nikon shooters tend to have that I don't. It's a certain elegance and sophistication. But, just like Canon, Nikon has also struggled over the past 10 years and their value on the stock markets aren't looking too positive. Although the value is higher than it was 10 years ago, I'm hesitant. On the other hand, it's a good time to buy if you think that they will eventually get out of the rut they're currently in. 

GoPro

They still seem like a startup, with massive investments and developments of their technology. It should also be said that we're able to buy the 7th edition of the GoPro Hero action camera. I have one, and I absolutely love it, and I've heard some rumors that they might license their stabilization tech to Canon, which could be beneficial for both companies, but the graph doesn't seem to budge on this. although there's been an increase in value for them the last year, it's been a flat last 7 years for them. 

My Plan

I have to make it clear that I am not a financial expert, and that I don't have the resources or knowledge to advise someone on investing in one company or another. I'm rather showing the current scenario. I want to invest, and I'm sure many have thought about doing the same. I'm going to invest $50 per month, and I will distribute the funds between companies I believe will grow throughout my life. Being diversified is a good idea when it comes to something you essentially cannot control. And there's really no need to have all your eggs in one basket. The future will bring more technologies and more companies on board. Some will go public and give us the opportunity to share in the growth. 

Conclusion

Looking at companies like Canon, Nikon, and GoPro makes me feel sad for them and the photography industry as a whole. Many of us have grown up with film cameras given to us by our parents. These cameras came with that brand name on it that we still use today. If we as photographers are not investing in these companies because of the risk involved, what are the investors doing? Have you invested in the companies that make your gear? If so and if I've missed a company worth looking at, please share it in the comments. 

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17 Comments

Titus Apfot's picture

intresting new view

Tony Tumminello's picture

None of the above. I'm going all in with my money and throwing it into KodakCoin KashMiners. There's something about the blockchain mentioned in there which is all the rage, so you know it's legit. I'm sure I'll make a return on my investment in weeks!

Michael Dougherty's picture

I have a short term position in Microsoft because it is a good "cloud" play. My big position is in the QQQ ETF since it is a roll up of many tech stocks. There are fewer surprises since if one stock stumbles, it only slightly affects your portfolio.

Patrick Hall's picture

Yeah Microsoft is doing well esp against their competitors. I got lucky and bought it a few times last year when it seemed Apple was having trouble. Wish I bought more.

I am definitely going to invest in Canon, exactly because of its low share price. Canon shares can only go upwards in the future.

Rk K's picture

You'd have to be mad to invest in a camera company. I'd go for AMD right now.

Dan Howell's picture

I've had AAPL for a long time. Lucky to have been advised to pick up NVIDIA (?) when it dipped earlier this year. That's been a good one. Have looked ad Adobe but think I missed the moment.

I am not looking at any camera stocks. That looks bleak. Like with cell phone market there are other players that might not seem obvious like chip makers and other suppliers for up-stream, mid-stream or down-stream markets. Will be keeping my eye on DJI if it looks like they are going public.

Patrick Hall's picture

AMD is a favorite here in the Fstoppers studio. At the moment I think I'm down a few percentage points but I've seen it swing like crazy (while holding and while off on the sidelines). When we were filming WAMA 3 with Mike Kelley out in Hawaii, AMD had a 25 or 30% day and David had a lot of money invested in it. Talk about a fun time seeing someone make that much money in 12 hours!

Patrick Hall's picture

Ha scratch that, I just looked and I'm up 102% on AMD and down 9% on NVDA. Even though mining for BTC isn't used by normal GPUs, both of these companies have struggled the last year with the Crypto crash. If that thing ever pops up again, holding both will be amazing....but I still think GPU usage will grow regardless of what crypto mining does.

Motti Bembaron's picture

In a few of them through mutual funds.

stir photos's picture

haha.... oh to have seen go pros' initial business plan, it must've been exceptionally special... like stuff of legends... haha

Patrick Hall's picture

Ha I am one who was burned by Gopro. I forgot what I bought in at but it was slowly tanking and I jumped. Of course 3 months afterwards it sprang back up but I think it's dying again right? DJI is the one company that would have been fun to invest in a few years ago but I don't know if they are even publicly traded. But boy did they own the drone market fast!

stir photos's picture

ah, bummer deal man, sorry to hear that, but yeah, it's a tough go w/o any transparency or news about anything, so...

yeah, i'm not sure if dji ever made an initial or not either... i do recall an economics professor who use to have hilarious stories about his hyundai (which he pronounced hun-die)... "lesson today- never, ever, ever puchase anything with the word DIE in it".... haha

Andrew Morse's picture

Oh I wouldn't invest in any camera companies right now - it invites too much speculation on what I think of the companies and me assuming I know everything about them. I'm too likely to bet using my gut than actual data with them.

Looking at two opposites here, Canon and Sony, the ILC market is what I know them for, but much of their income comes from other sources. For instance, while Semiconductors are important for Sony, it brings in less than their entertainment division and the financial services division. The entertainment division (think playstation) is their number one profit driver, and the gaming industry is changing rapidly: both Google and Apple are talking about streaming gaming services - two giants I wouldn't want to compete against.

Similarly, for Canon as a whole the imaging business line only accounts for <25% of their revenue as of Q1 2019 (though that is their second largest business unit). I'd be too tempted to bet on the performance of Canon as a whole based on my knowledge of their imaging business even though it is relatively small in their grand suite of operations. Their business sales unit is 46% of sales and holding steady, while their medical business is growing enough to nearly offset losses elsewhere.

Bottom line, there are definitely better bets out there than camera companies and I'm too close to the issue to avoid wild speculation.

Patrick Hall's picture

Interesting article. I was able to put down about $80k on my house by holding onto Apple back in 2009-12.

Of course we always have to be clear when saying we are holders of stocks yet also don't advise anyone to follow our own financial device but this is a fun post.

My favorite recent purchases have been anything with credit (Mastercard, Visa, and SQ) although my 70% gains in SQ plummeted to just 7% after the Q4 dip.

TNDM and ELLXF are my two gamble stocks but they are both up around 27% in 3-4 months.

ADBE has been a long term hold (36% up) and I bought a ton of FB when it crashed twice last year (up only 10% since buying but hope it bounces now that they have overcome some hurdles). These are probably my own two "photography" related stocks....I used to own Kodak and rode that ship until it completely crashed. Luckily it was only $1500 or so.

NFLX has been good to me long term but I always consider selling it. I just bought DIS 3 weeks ago before it hit and now it's up 20% and I think they have a chance to sweep the streaming market well.

With car automation coming and the potential for current car owners to hold off buying a new car until they feel confident in self driving tech and electric tech, I bought a bunch of ORLY and AAP thinking that more people will actually repair their own cars before buying the next breed of cars. Who knows if that is a wise move.

Lee and I argue a lot about Tesla and because he is scared of the market, I think he sold everything except TSLA. I wound up selling TSLA a few days before Elon's crazy 420 tweet which was very lucky on my part, but in our typical competitive spirit, I put all my TSLA money directly into MTCH (yes the online dating site). Since that day, TSLA Is down like 25% and Match is up 30%. Talk about a big swing!

I wish I knew more about investing based on fundamentals and actually keeping up with a lot of these companies but I have to admit, it feels more like I'm gambling than actually investing. That being said, I've been able to beat the market the last few years even if it's only by 1-2%. Investing is def a game of emotional control and self control when you want to buy all in or sell all at once.

Thanks for this article! I'm just at the point where I'm building my portfolio and you gave me a couple good thinking points.
But what's the app/site you use for tracking the stocks in the screenshots?

Wouter du Toit's picture

Hello Valentin, I used the Apple Stocks app. It’s probably not the most accurate real-time tool to use, but I think it worked well to show the 5 year results. I’m glad it gave you some thinking points!