iRobot (IRBT 0.77%) has some big questions to answer for investors in the coming week. The robotic cleaning device specialist made Wall Street nervous in its last earnings report, which showed net losses combined with falling sales volumes.
Those operating trends might have improved in the second quarter, with help from the lifting of Chinese tariffs and potentially stabilizing demand for vacuum cleaning devices. Investors will be watching closely for signs of a return to steady sales and earnings growth in the second half of the year.
Let's take a look at the main metrics to watch on Wednesday, August 10.
Most investors who follow the stock are expecting to see sales fall approximately 14% to $303 million. Keep in mind, though, that this comparison will be affected by soaring demand a year ago when pandemic lockdowns and federal stimulus payments lifted sales. Revenue is still likely to rise compared to the pre-pandemic Q2 period in 2019, which was $280 million.
Looking deeper into sales trends, iRobot in early May revealed modest global sales declines, in part thanks to solid demand in the U.S. and Japanese markets. But inflation, combined with the war in Ukraine, caused a slump in the European segment. A key question for Q2 is whether iRobot is still seeing relative strength in these markets.
Keep an eye on the balance between pricing and sales volumes. iRobot hiked prices but endured falling unit volumes in Q1. If the company can't grow both metrics, it risks flat revenue for the full 2022 year.
iRobot outperformed management's earnings forecast last quarter, though net losses were significant. The company is benefiting from lifting tariffs on its Chinese imports that should, with help from price increases, start lifting profits in the second half of the year.
The company has a long way to go before achieving the double-digit operating profit margin that investors saw recently as early 2021. After all, profitability fell into negative territory last quarter and likely won't recover quickly in Q2 as sales remain pressured.
But shareholders are hoping that CEO Colin Angle and his team can show progress on this score, given that they promised to "preserve our profitability" back in early May.
The volatile consumer and geopolitical environment might force executives to issue a wide outlook range for the rest of 2022. Heading into this week's report, that forecast calls for sales to rise to between $1.64 billion and $1.74 billion compared to $1.6 billion last year and $1.4 billion in 2020. As a result, reported earnings could land anywhere between a profit of $0.23 per share and a loss of $0.37 per share.
Investors are hoping to gain more clarity on Wednesday, including a tighter forecast range for these key growth metrics. Meanwhile, we'll have to wait until the Q3 report for answers to the key question of consumer and retailer demand heading into the holiday shopping season.
This week's announcement will contain hints on that topic, but iRobot's wider 2022 performance will likely come down to consumer trends that aren't knowable right now.