Is This Review a Warning Before iRobot Earnings?

The dream of never having to vacuum again feels all too real when you look at advertisements for iRobot's (NASDAQ: IRBT  ) Roomba floor-cleaning robot, but one recent high-profile review does not look favorably upon these friendly looking floor cleaners.


Roomba 780: Courtesy of iRobot Corp.

Consumer Reports recently characterized the robotic vacuums as "expensive novelties." This is the last type of product review you'd like to hear as an investor in iRobot, and it comes on the back of competitor Neato Robotics winning several head-to-head robot vacuum reviews.

What's really interesting is the disagreement between consumer reviews and Consumer Reports. A quick look at the Amazon.com or Bed Bath & Beyond sites shows the robotic vacuums performing admirably and collecting four- to five-star reviews across the board.

In the video below, Motley Fool analyst Blake Bos goes over these mixed signals, and tells investors what they should watch for before the company reports earnings after markets close on Tuesday.

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  • Report this Comment On October 21, 2013, at 7:56 PM, AbitAnimated wrote:

    THIS ARTICLE IS WHOLLY INACCURATE ABOUT IROBOT'S REVIEWS W/ CONSUMER REPORTS!!!!

    I felt compelled to register just to call out the BS in this article. I happen to have an account w/ Consumer Reports so I can see the following:

    1) Consumer Reports has reviewed three robotic vacuum cleaners thus far: the Roomba 760, the LG Hom-Bot Square LrV790R, and the Neato XV-21.

    2) The Neato ($400) comes dead last w/ a score of 66/100. It was the noisiest and the worst at cleaning.

    3) The Roomba 760 ($450) scored the highest, at 90/100 and Consumer Reports rates it as "Recommended."

    4) Here's the BIG fact though: Consumer Reports has reviewed a total of 150 vacuums. Guess which is ranked #1 out of EVERY vacuum? The Roomba 760, by at least 10 points. That's right, the Roomba is considered the best overall vacuum.

    Shame on Motley Fool for so completely twisting the facts on this.

  • Report this Comment On October 22, 2013, at 9:39 AM, TMFBos wrote:

    @AbitAnimated

    Sorry for the the confusion, the ratings for robotic vacuums are only comparable in that category, not across all vacuum categories. So yes the Roomba does rate the highest for robotic vacuums but Consumer Reports still says they're... "Think of these more as expensive novelties than practical appliances."

    Which can be found at this link:

    http://consumerreports.org/cro/vacuum-cleaners/buying-guide....

    Robotic vacuums still have a ways to go before they can compete with the performance of canisters and uprights. Hopefully that helps!

    Cheers,

    Blake

  • Report this Comment On October 22, 2013, at 8:53 PM, AbitAnimated wrote:

    @Blake

    Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

    First, you are quoting an article from SEPTEMBER OF 2012! That article predates Consumer Reports' review of the Roomba 760 BY NEARLY A YEAR. A year-old article does not mean Consumer Reports has "recently characterized" anything, as your article explicitly states.

    Second, Consumer Reports has actually RECENTLY stated the EXACT OPPOSITE OF YOUR ARTICLE!!!! A September 3, 2013, article stated that while robotic vacuums have a "REPUTATION for being novelties more than necessities. Our tests of three new robotic vacuums show that robovacs are getting better, though [THE ROOMBA 760] IS CLEARLY THE BEST OF THIS TRIO." (Source: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2013/09/consumer-rep... Contrary to your article, Consumer Reports doesn't have a negative view of iRobot's products at all. You are doing your readers/viewers a great disservice by suggesting otherwise.

    Finally, the vacuums ARE rated along the same categories, per Consumer Reports own testing standards.

    You are literally taking Consumer Reports' negative reviews for Roomba's competitors and using that to bash Roomba. This is the equivalent of Michelin going to Five Guys, writing a review that says "While burgers normally suck, Five Guys is great!" and then YOU write an article headlined "Michelin review is bad for Five Guys!"

    This article is so inaccurate that it is actually the complete opposite of the truth. I don't know if you've noticed, but this article has already been picked up by multiple other outlets (I found it through Yahoo), which means you have already damaged iRobot's brand in the eyes of at least a few thousand people. If you have any journalistic integrity, you would take it down, retract what you said, and issue an apology to iRobot.

  • Report this Comment On October 23, 2013, at 12:24 PM, TMFBos wrote:

    Sorry, but I'm going to have to disagree with you on all fronts.

    CG's stance on robotic vacuums hasn't changed in a year since the buying guide was released. The article from september, 3rd 2013 explicity states--

    "No robotic vacuum can match the deep cleaning you’ll get with the best upright and canister vacuums. We also suggest thinking twice about any robotic vacuum if you have shag carpeting or area rugs. Otherwise, consider the iRobot Roomba 760 for its less-lavish price. And consider it only for maintenance between primary vacuuming, not as an alternative to an upright or canister."

    This is in line with their viewpoints in the vacuums guide consumers look to when deciding a vacuum purchase.

    Consumer report does highlight the roomba is the best vacuum in that category but that doesn't change how they feel about the category as a whole.

    As for the categories, if you hover your mouse over the question marks in each category it's evident the rating criteria for uprights/canisters are different for robotic vacuums; and hence doesn't allow for score comparisons between the two.

    I never mentioned CG's review of the roomba, just for robotic vacuums in general. That being said I don't see how it's good news for robotic vacuums that in the CG buying guide it says robotic vacuums shouldn't be seen as an alternative to an upright or canister. Obviously, people love their roomba's and iRobot has done a good job with that product, but in my opinion they'll have to compete with uprights and canister to take it the next level in order to get a bigger market opportunity and increase growth rates and justify today's share price (sorry for the run on). I appreciate your criticism, but still stand by my viewpoints that CG's reports/reviews bode ill for robotic vacuums currently. they're not a game changer yet.

    Cheers,

    Blake

  • Report this Comment On October 26, 2013, at 8:26 AM, jimmymason wrote:

    Lies, Lies, Lies !!!!

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