Thursday, December 16, 2010

iRobot Stock Nears $24 IPO price as Roombas selling out, SUGV begins shipping

A couple of pieces of excellent news appears to be juicing iRobot's stock, which has come very close to the initial $24 IPO price, which would be a nice milestone for the company. Boeing, the company that markets iRobot's SUGV product to the military, announced that it has started delivering SUGVs under the low rate initial production phase of the brigade combat team modernization program, with plans to send them to Afghanistan in 2012. While the military has recently sent out a request for competitors who can match iRobot's SUGV capabilities, none have appeared to have done so to date.

Also, iRobot's Roomba products appear to be selling well. HSN, one of iRobot's largest retail partners, has sold out of its best-selling model already.

iRobot noted on its last conference call that demand would outstrip supply this year until they brought on another supplier in late December/early January. My guess is that this could skew Roomba products to higher-cost SKUs as customers buy whatever is left on the shelves. iRobot also did not participate in this year's Black Friday specials the way they have in the past; there were no $79-$99 Roombas to be found.

All of that could mean marginally higher profit margins.

Also, because the company has fully hedged next year's nickel needs at favorable prices, the company could be set for an excellent 2011 and beyond, provided they get the SUGV contract that they expect.

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