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Shares of iRobot Corporation (NASDAQ: IRBT) marched higher on Monday, helped by industry news that Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) purchased robotics company Boston Dynamics over the weekend for an undisclosed amount. Similar to iRobot, Boston Dynamics develops autonomous machines that are used by the U.S. military. While Google's latest acquisition doesn't directly benefit iRobot, it does bring significant attention to the robotics industry overall.
For the day, iRobot's stock notched a daily high of $31.41 after opening the day at $30.02. As more companies look to robots for cutting costs and improving manufacturing processes, it could create fresh opportunities for iRobot in new markets.
Do the robot
Robots are increasingly being used across a variety of industries today. Last year, Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) coughed up $775 million to buy robotics maker Kiva Systems. Today, Amazon's Kiva automatons help the e-tailer save time and money. In fact, analysts at Janney Capital Markets estimate that Amazon's robots could save the company as much as $916 million a year in fulfillment efficiencies.
It's not surprising, then, that Google is heavily investing in autonomous technology these days. The tech giant has scooped up eight separate robotics companies in the past six months, including its recent purchase of Boston Dynamics. While iRobot is best known for its consumer-facing products like its floor-cleaning Roomba, it might not be long before we see iRobot deploy bots for industrial or manufacturing use.
Government spending cuts hurt iRobot in late 2012, as the company's defense business took a major hit. However, with conglomerates from every walk of industry now turning to robots to streamline operations, iRobot could carve out a new path to growth. Additionally, iRobot's bots are already off to a strong start in the health care space. iRobot's RP-VITA, or Remote Presence Virtual + Independent Telemedicine Assistant, was approved by the FDA earlier this year for use in U.S. hospitals.
A bold future
Ultimately, more robots in more industries are a win for iRobot. Shares of iRobot are up more than 56% year to date, and given these industrywide catalysts, 2014 could be an even bigger year for the company.
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