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Why iRobot Stock Soared Today

By Steve Symington – Updated Apr 24, 2019 at 10:42PM

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The home robotics leader announced its first lawn mower. Here's what investors need to know.

What happened

Shares of iRobot (IRBT 0.35%) climbed as much as 9.5% on Wednesday, then settled to trade up 8.2% as of 3:45 p.m. after the home robotics specialist unveiled its first robotic lawn mower.

Dubbed Terra, iRobot's newest bot is able to autonomously navigate any given lawn using mapping and navigation technology, including what the company says is a "newly developed wireless communications system" with stand-alone wireless beacons. By contrast, current competitive robotic lawn mowers require cumbersome buried boundary wires.

Man setting up an iRobot Terra robotic lawn mower

Terra does the job teenagers have done for years. Image source: iRobot.

 So what

The company boasts that -- much like its latest Roombas -- the Terra "mows like people do, intelligently navigating a yard cutting efficiently in straight, back-and-forth lines." Terra also keeps track of its progress, and can return to its base to recharge as needed until it finishes the job. The robot is also compatible with iRobot's HOME app, where users can customize settings like its mowing schedule and grass height.

"iRobot is building an ecosystem of robots and technologies that help people do more both inside and outside of the home," said CEO Colin Angle. "The robot mower segment is well established in [Europe, the Middle East, and Africa] and has tremendous room for growth in other markets, including North America. With its ease of use and premium mowing features, Terra is poised to give consumers a whole new way to think about how they take care of their lawn."

Now what

To be clear, iRobot's Terra robot mower won't be widely available at first. Rather, the company says Terra will go on sale first in Germany and as a beta program in the U.S. this year. It also hasn't provided a retail price for the new bot, promising pricing and availability details at a later date. But with prices reaching as high as $3,500 for some robotic mowers on the market today, it seems safe to say Terra will cost more than the roughly $1,100 iRobot asks for its current top-of-the-line Roomba i7+ model.

In the end, considering iRobot's flagship Roomba line still generates the vast majority of its revenue (though its popular Braava floor mopping bots are increasing in popularity), the multibillion-dollar lawn care segment obviously represents a massive opportunity for incremental growth. So it's hard to blame investors for bidding up iRobot shares today.

Check out the latest iRobot earnings call transcript.

Steve Symington owns shares of iRobot. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends iRobot. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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