In this Market Foolery segment, Chris Hill is joined by Motley Fool analysts David Kretzmann and Aaron Bush as the team turns its attention to iRobot (IRBT 0.74%), the company famous for its autonomous vacuum cleaner, the Roomba. It may have started off as a novelty, but the company has cemented itself in the marketplace as the popularity of iRobot's products take off. And there are a number of reasons why this company is surging ahead.
So should investors buy in today, despite the high earnings multiple?
A full transcript follows the video.
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This video was recorded on April 26, 2017.
Chris Hill: iRobot shares hitting an all-time high today after first quarter profit more than doubled expectations. Aaron, this is not a beat by a penny type situation, they crushed it. They also raised their guidance for the whole fiscal year. Holy cow.
Aaron Bush: Roombas are taking over the world. That's all you can really say. Yeah, they crushed expectations. I think what we're seeing right now is they're witnessing an inflection in demand of their Roombas, which is very impressive. Believe it or not, the Roomba last year was the most sold vacuum cleaner in the U.S., in terms of dollars spent. Yeah, wow. To me, that almost feels like the rise of the Roomba occurred somewhat stealthily. Looking at the product compared to past iterations, you really do see the improvements that have been coming through. They work better, they have more connected features, which will play a role more so as the connected homes inevitably start popping up more and more. The Roomba itself, obviously, is killing it.
But, beyond the Roomba, there are other products and moves the company has made that also excites investors. The Braava, for one, that's iRobot's hardwood cleaner, right now, that's still a tiny fragment of revenue, but it's selling well. It also has these wipe consumables that consumers need to buy, so it adds a form of recurring revenue for the company, too, which is always good to see. iRobot just bought back its Asian distributors, which gives it more control in how it sells in that continent. That's actually a pretty huge deal. I think later this year, we should expect Japan's growth to accelerate. We'll see them significantly ramp up business in China. That should be a huge deal. The Braava in particular could sell particularly well because hardwood floors are more of a norm over there. So, really giving that second product they have a huge boost. Then, lastly, the innovation machine that they have just keeps on running. They're just as much as software company at this point as a vacuum cleaning robot company. So, new robots that perform new tasks, like lawn mowing, whatever else they have in store, should be expected. As time rolls on, these robots are going to do their jobs better and better. I think investors should expect more beats going forward. This is impressive.
Hill: I was on their website and saw they also have a robot pool cleaner. I don't have a pool, but I thought, I would 100% buy one. There are some people who actually enjoy mowing their lawn. I'm not one of them, but there are some people who are like, "It's relaxing, I'm outside in nature," that kind of thing. I can't imagine anyone owning a pool and saying, "Oh, I'm looking forward to a day of Zen and relaxation of cleaning my pool." No. Buy that thing, set it loose on the bottom of your pool, and you're done.
David Kretzmann: I think our digital age has made people lazy enough that iRobot is hitting the inflection point, finally, where people just want to automate everything they can.
Hill: Is 100% of their business just consumer? Do they have any sort of business-to-business relationship where they're going to a hotel chain or something like that and selling them en masse?
Kretzmann: I think now that they're entirely a consumer goods, consumer-facing company. Last year they divested a defense or security division. I think they're primarily selling to the U.S. military at that point. I think that makes sense, because the consumer market is sizable. In the U.S. alone, robot vacuum cleaners are about 20% of the total vacuum market. Just that robot vacuum cleaner portion, which is growing, is about $6 billion or so. So, there's a sizable market there. And iRobot really is the dominant brand in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. So, I think doubling down and really focusing on that consumer market makes sense for them. Since they divested that security division last year, the stock has done really well. I don't follow this closely enough I know if those two are completely related, or one caused the other. But to me, it makes sense for them to focus on that consumer market, because I think that's where the majority of the growth is.
Hill: Aaron, the stock is up about 15% today. We love it when a stock hits an all time high. But I have to ask, how expensive is this stock? When you look at it, do you think, "OK, this is great for shareholders, but right now, today, this is kind of a pricey stock?"
Bush: It is a pretty pricey stock. I think it's definitely earned it. Just seeing, today, the stock go up 15%, I think if this company continues to execute the way it has, and if this inflection point is real, then I don't think it is as pricey as it may seem to a lot of investors.
Kretzmann: Yeah, it's still just a $2 billion company. I could see that bumping up, especially if they could maintain that brand leadership position, which they seem to have carved out pretty nicely.