In this segment from Rule Breaker Investing, Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner dives into one of five stocks that could earn a spot in your portfolio -- his first pick is Axon Enterprise (AXON 14.65%). The company recently rebranded itself to reflect its expanding product and service offerings, but its ongoing mission is as important as ever.
Tune in to learn more.
A full transcript follows the video.
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This podcast was recorded on April 19, 2017.
David Gardner: OK, stock number one. Stock number one is Axon Enterprise. The ticker symbol is AAXN. The market cap of this company is $1 billion and as I speak the stock is trading at $22.26.
This is a company that a lot of you will know by a different name. It recently changed its corporate name. This is/was TASER. TASER, a public company for the better part of the last decade plus, but recently changed its name because of its emerging new product of Axon police body cameras. A new line, and really a big focus for the company and so what the world used to know as TASER is now Axon with the new ticker symbol AAXN.
So why do I like this company and why have I liked it for quite a while?
Well first of all, it has the dream of ridding the world of bullets, and I like that a lot. I don't like lethal ammunition. And while certainly TASER has been criticized, and some people have sometimes said that it's led to death that would have not happened had somebody not been Tasered, the reality is if you look at the whole sum, a holistic view of what's happening, you have a lot of people being subdued with Tasers that otherwise might well have been shot with ammunition that might have killed them.
So as a consequence, stun gun sales, remain a big product, of course, for TASER. In 2016, stun gun sales up 34% over the year before. This is driven by repeat purchases -- departments that will buy a few and then add some more -- and also by recurring revenue.
So this is one of those while you're not buying more bullets every time, the electricity and other accoutrements of having TASER in your police department is a big part of the recurring revenue story. Of course, some new customers, too, and a company that does have a global opportunity. Already Tasers are used worldwide, but there's a lot of room for growth internationally.
And now let's talk briefly about those Axon body cameras. So in a world, especially here in the United States in the last year or two ... I almost included this stock, by the way, in "5 Stocks the World Needs Right Now," because when I was thinking about that in mid-February, I was reflecting back on how there's a lot of controversy in the U.S. around certain shooting deaths where a police officer has shot to death somebody, sometimes, of a different color of skin than the police officer, and a lot of controversy and sadness around those things.
And with police wearing body cameras, we all have a much better view. Whether you're just a casual person using social media to see what's happening out there, or you're actually assessing the performance of a police officer in the field, body cameras are profoundly transparent. A big game changer out there.
And Axon Enterprise (again, the new name of this company), also has its Evidence.com video management cloud service; so yes, one of those cloud video-based models where they have all the information up there in the cloud that you can subscribe to. And so this company grew that business around 50% last year, so that's a growth part of the business.
However, it has hurt near-term results in an interesting way. That Axon new business has lower margins and in some cases runs losses as an early stage business, and so you're seeing Axon Enterprise, overall as a company, have somewhat disappointing results in the near term with lower profits because of this emerging business.
But I like it a lot because we're focused, as you know, on the long term. And as I think three-plus years forward -- and that's how I'm going to score these five stocks, by the way [as] I'm going to be looking at them over the next three years -- I like this company a lot.
And you know, I want to put in a quick word about a completely unrelated company to make a general point about why I like Axon Enterprise. So another stock that we have under coverage in Motley Fool Rule Breakers (and if you're a Rule Breakers member you know this), is Monster Energy Drinks. Monster Drink. That business.
And you may well recall about five years ago Monster got in trouble (especially from the popular media) as it was alleged that one or another person had drunk Monster Energy Drinks in combination with something else and had died as a result. And it was one of those stories that's always sad. We never like to hear that anybody's died because of their using any product at all.
But it was one of those stories where the media kind of picked it up and then somebody else attributed it to another incident. And all of a sudden you had the Monster Energy Drink killings story of 2012. Five or six people were alleged to have been "killed" by a Monster Energy Drink and the stock dropped from $28 to $14 in less than a year just in 2012.
Now we had picked the stock back in 2009. In fact, it was January of 2009 where we picked the stock at $5.55. Today the stock is at $45. It's been a tremendous overall investment for Rule Breakers members, but if you were right there with us in 2012, you watched the stock of the time (again, it had gone from $5.55 to $28, but it dropped from $28 to $14) in light of what I would call kind of a bandwagon media effect. Stories attributed looking for the next one and the Monster Energy Drink killing story of 2012.
Here we are. Fast forward five years later. No one's really talking about that anymore. I'm not sure anything serious was ever really proven and you end up with a stock that today is at about $45 a share which has been a tremendous bounce back from that low of $14 in 2012.
Why am I mentioning Monster? Well, I think TASER has suffered from some similar press at different points. It will get picked up that somebody was hit with a Taser and died. It caused a heart attack, and the questions will be did the Taser kill the person? It's always very sad, again, whenever that happens. Any death is a tragedy, but it seems rather dubious to me in most cases. And really, we're talking about a handful of cases where that's been the case. Sometimes there's a preexisting heart condition.
These kinds of stories are in the interstitials, but you end up with a big-time media effect where everybody's against the technology for a while, whether it's a Monster Energy Drink or a stun gun. But then things kind of subside, life returns to normal, and these stocks usually bounce back because for the most part they're offering products that people appreciate. That make the world better for a large number of people. I think that's true of stun guns. I definitely think it's true of police body cameras, so we'll see.
OK, that is the first stock and really that's the longest of the stock talks that I have for you, because I wanted to hook in a separate point, there, about Monster, because I think it's important when you think about Axon Enterprises.