iRobot (IRBT -3.55%) is set to release first-quarter 2019 results next Tuesday, April 23, 2019, after the market closes. With shares of the home-robotics specialist up more than 60% so far in 2019, spurred by its impressive holiday-quarter results in February, now's a great time for investors to start thinking about what to expect when iRobot's latest update hits the wires.
Here are four things I'll be watching closely next week.
iRobot's headline numbers
For better or worse -- and though we typically don't pay close attention to Wall Street's demands -- the market tends focus first on the headline numbers. Most analysts expect iRobot to achieve quarterly earnings of $0.59 per share (down from $0.71 in the same year-ago period) on a 15.8% increase in revenue, to $251.4 million.
Regarding that bottom-line decline, keep in mind that reported earnings in last year's first quarter included a $0.05-per-share benefit related to new accounting standards for stock-based compensation. Also, during their quarterly conference call in February, management warned that iRobot's profits in the first half of the year will be affected by the timing of sales and marketing expenses to support new product introductions, as well as costs related to strategic supply chain diversification efforts.
On mitigating the impact of tariffs
On that note, investors should listen closely for progress on iRobot's efforts to negate the cost of a 10% tariff incurred on Roomba robotic vacuums manufactured in China and imported into the United States -- a figure iRobot management told investors in February would mean around $20 million to $25 million in incremental expenses this year.
Most notable here is iRobot's aforementioned shift away from manufacturing and supply chain partners based in China. But at the start of 2019, iRobot also increased prices for its premium i7 and i7+ Roombas sold in the U.S. to help offset those tariffs, and the move hadn't significantly hurt demand as of its February report. We want to know, though, whether consumers continued to shrug off higher prices for the already-expensive vacuums both as the first quarter came to a close and through the early weeks of the (current) second quarter.
New product updates
Next, although investors are already excited by the impending launch of iRobot's first robotic lawn mower, Terra -- both in Germany and as a beta in the U.S. market later this year -- company chairman and CEO Colin Angle also teased in February iRobot's plans to launch additional new products "beyond Terra" around the middle of this year.
Angle didn't provide specific details on those new product launches, leaving us to speculate on whether they could simply be revised versions of existing Roombas or Braava (floor-mopping) models, variants of the initial Terra mower, or perhaps another entirely unexpected robot category altogether. On the latter -- and however unlikely -- iRobot has previously voiced interest in areas like bathroom cleaning, laundry folding, and (via a recent partnership it struck with Google) smart-home solutions.
Finally, look for iRobot to offer a revised look at its financial targets for the coming years.
In particular, iRobot's current guidance calls for full-year 2019 revenue of $1.28 billion to $1.31 billion, operating income of $108 million to $118 million (or operating margins of roughly 8.7% at the midpoint), with earnings per share of $3.00 to $3.25.
Looking further ahead, iRobot is targeting compound annual revenue growth of roughly 19% over the next three years, starting with mid- to high-teens percent growth in 2020 with operating margins expanding to 10%.
Whether iRobot chooses to adjust these goals will depend largely on whether it's had a strong start to 2019. And -- keeping in mind the four factors above -- you can be sure I'll touch base shortly after the report to see whether it succeeds to that end.