Lawsuits dominate the headlines when it comes to TASER (Nasdaq: TASR ) , but growth has truly been holding back the company. For example, revenue declined by $20 million during 2005. But now a recovery may be in sight, thanks in part to the TASER Cam, which entered production in June.
The TASER Cam is a portable camera that records what happens when a TASER is drawn, aimed, and fired. "All [customers] have to do is buy this part and it will attach to the weapon that they currently own," TASER President Tom Smith told David Gardner in a recent interview.
If Smith sounds like he's gushing with optimism, he is -- and with some good reason. Roughly 140,000 TASER stun guns are currently in use among U.S. law enforcement officers, Smith claims. At $400 per Cam, that's a potential upgrade market of $56 million.
Smith has great confidence that law enforcement agencies will embrace the device. He likens it to in-car video, which he says has helped to acquit officers falsely accused of abuse. "By putting a camera on the bottom of the device, whatever you are pointing the TASER at when it is armed and you deploy it, it is now going to film what is going on ... we are going to be able to give [law enforcement officers] video evidence to help substantiate what they were really doing at the time the device was deployed."
Logically, that makes much sense, which may be why Houston's police chief has already said he'd like to have the device for the 4,000 TASER pistols Smith says are in use by officers in that city. But will the TASER Cam be an overnight success? Not likely, if only because, as Smith says, sales of TASER devices and equipment often require multiple levels of approvals and reams of paperwork.
Still, it's about time TASER had some good news. And if nothing else, the market numbers remain encouraging. The National Law Enforcement Officers Fund says there are 800,000 working police in the U.S. So far, Smith says TASER has armed 16% of them. Outfitting just half of the rest with pistols and TASER Cams could generate more than $300 million in sales, and that's just the cops here in the U.S.
Of course, there's much more to the TASER story than the Cam. David Gardner heard all of it in his lengthy interview with Smith. The entire transcript will be available soon to Motley Fool Rule Breakers subscribers. And to you, if you're willing to try the service, free, for 30 days. Want to learn more? Just click here.
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Fool contributor Tim Beyers isn't easily shocked, but he's pretty sure a TASER shot would do the trick. Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. You can find out which stocks he owns by checking Tim's Fool profile. The Motley Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.