The success of Tasers and body cameras in law enforcement has driven TASER International, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:AXON) success over the past decade. But it's the overarching trends that should be important for investors looking into this space.
TASER International was founded on the desire to equip police officers with equipment that was less lethal than a gun, and the drive into body camera sales have been driven by a desire for transparency in law enforcement. And transparency has been found to lower the number of cases where a gun is used lethally. Expanding on the trend of making law enforcement safer, the company is looking into drones as an attractive tool to both expand the business and make existing products more compelling. And it's a business investors should keep an eye on closely.
The TASER drone project?
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that TASER International is testing the idea of attaching a stun gun to a drone, adding another tool to make law enforcement one step safer. The product would allow for less risk to law enforcement officers and could give visibility before storming a building. Whether or not the product could be fired accurately at distance is a question, but it's an interesting concept to explore.
Drones would fit neatly into TASER International's aim of making law enforcement safer for everyone. But it may also augment the body camera and Evidence.com database that houses video for use by law enforcement and prosecutors very naturally. Video from a drone could be uploaded along with body camera video, making prosecution easier as well. And that's where investors should be excited.
To ballpark numbers, if 5% of the 95,000 customers using Evidence.com bought a drone for $1,000, the impact would be about $4.75 million on the top line. That's a nice addition, but the real value would be adding capabilities to Evidence.com, which had $262.8 million in future contracted revenue at the end of the second quarter. And the service's gross margin of 71% is incredibly profitable for the company, so any extra value it can bring to customers will help lock them into the business.
Drones are coming to law enforcement
We already know that drones are being brought into the law enforcement sphere. AeroVironment (NASDAQ:AVAV) has built the Qube drone that provides visual and thermal images to law enforcement in the field, and it's likely commercially available drones will be used for similar functions.
What could be different with TASER International is the use of a Taser or stun gun. That would provide more than visual help to law enforcement; it would give a way to interact in the event in a remote way. This is something that's already present in military conflicts, and it has helped improve data capture and safety as well.
The question now is more around how, not if, law enforcement will be using drones in the future. If TASER International can provide a compelling product solution to add to existing products, it could be a boon to the business.
Drones provide a growth option
As it stands today, drones aren't a good reason to buy shares of TASER International, but it's a product line that's worth watching. Drones probably wouldn't be a meaningful amount of sales, given the fact that not every officer would need one, but it could help add to the value of the high-margin Evidence.com cloud business the company is selling. And adding value to existing products is a great way to expand the business organically, which is optionality every investor should like in a growing business.