Those funny Garmin
There have long been common-sense applications for GPS technology in industry, but the potential in the gigantic consumer market goes largely untapped. There's definitely a siren song for consumers in the concept of not getting lost -- not to mention finding alternative routes in a time when gridlocked traffic is often the rule, not the exception. Furthermore, the fact that such devices are getting less expensive makes rapid consumer adoption over the coming years a no-brainer.
On that note, Garmin's the brand leader in the U.S. market, with 60% market share. Although it does face rivals like TomTom (which does have the No. 1 ranking in Europe when it comes to market share), Garmin boasts an impressive product pipeline. In fact, last quarter, 61% of Garmin's revenues came from products it launched in the last year.
Meanwhile, it's not like Garmin's sitting on its laurels; it's on the acquisition trail. It recently said it's acquiring Digital Cyclone, a company that will help it provide location-based weather information over its GPS devices, obviously a nice value-add for those devices. Garmin said it expects the acquisition to add to earnings in 2007. In another deal that it says will add to 2007 earnings, Garmin bought the company that distributes its consumer products in France.
Even though GPS navigators have by no means saturated the consumer market, Garmin's got a lot of bases covered, with navigation devices for aviation and marine applications as well as the outdoorsy market. Its numbers have reflected that. When Fool Jim Gillies nominated Garmin as the best international stock for 2007, he pointed out that since Garmin's 2000 IPO, sales have had an annualized growth rate of 30.6%. Furthermore, free cash flow has had a compounded growth rate of 38.9%. It also doesn't hurt that Garmin pays a dividend and repurchases stock at opportune times. It has $461 million in cash on its balance sheet and no long-term debt.
I'm pretty sure my Foolish dueling partner Chuck will cite Garmin's share price in his bearish analysis, but with the huge market for GPS navigators, I say let's not be hasty in assuming it's overpriced. True, some analyst downgrades recently dragged Garmin's share price down by 7% this month, as some investors chewed on the thought that Garmin is losing market share to its competitors. Such sentiments seemed to me (and other Fools) to be short-term concerns that hardly address the stock's long-term potential.
Of course, there is risk in the fact that competitors have found their way to GPS navigation, including companies that are putting such features into cell phones; Nokia
I'm not above citing some community intelligence here, either -- I've also got the CAPS community on my side when it comes to this Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. As of this writing, Garmin's a four-star stock in CAPS, with 1,414 "outperform" rankings and a mere 51 players who believe it will underperform. CAPS certainly doesn't reflect much pessimism on this stock.
Given the huge potential for these devices, which are getting smarter and more reasonably priced and are increasingly catching on with consumers as must-have tools for making one's way through today's busy world as quickly and easily as possible, I'd say the future is bright for Garmin.