In the competitive spirit of college basketball's annual championship tournament, The Motley Fool brings you Stock Madness 2007! Our writers are making head-to-head arguments for their chosen stocks (but not necessarily investment recommendations -- this is, after all, a game), and you'll pick the winners with your article recommendations and Motley Fool CAPS ratings. Who will win the right to cut down the net? Let's tip things off and find out!
This isn't a fair fight. I have to argue that a company that creates robotic floor suckers and moppers for slackers like me is somehow superior to a company that is empowering the masses in China. Well, at least as an investment.
Oh, and I also happen to be pitted against Bill Mann. He's a friend, but he's also a legend. And with that legend come a flock of faithful followers. I call them Mann-o-nites, or Mann-o-kins. Either way, I'm ultimately out-Manned.
But let's not bury iRobot
iRobot's Roomba is virtually ubiquitous by now. The company has sold more than 2 million of those orb-shaped vacuum cleaning automatons. The higher end Scooba floor-scrubbing model that rolled out last year has collected innovation awards, but it's still nowhere close to garnering the widespread popularity of the Roomba.
Let's not underestimate iRobot's role as a military recruit, either. Technology is a major part of any tactical maneuver these days. Just as you have companies such as AeroVironment
The company is in the process of working with Deere
The company will also enter a third category later this year. It did not reveal the niche during last month's conference call, though the company's CEO has told our Rich Smith that he sees a growing need for robotics in the field of elderly care. We're living longer, and the supply of qualified care professionals is meager.
What's that? You haven't heard me discuss iRobot's financials yet? I apologize. I was saving the worst for last. The company has been a fiscal disappointment. It does expect to squeeze out a small profit this year, but most of that will come from the interest-generating idle cash on its balance sheet.
Things should get a whole lot better in a few years, once the company is cranking out several product lines. The company's long-term goal is to produce operating margins in the high teens.
If iRobot's aim is true -- and a robot's aim is pretty darn accurate -- that will make the stock a bargain at today's levels. Picking up iRobot at a fraction of what the IPO investors paid has to be somewhat compelling to value hounds. The company's potential should be enough to light a firecracker under growth-stock investors too.
Does iRobot deserve to move on to the next round? If so, simply follow this link and rank the stock "outperform" in Motley Fool CAPS. If you want to rain on my parade, vote it "underperform." Later this week, we'll tally your votes to determine which stocks will advance one step closer to the title.
Do you think you could pitch your favorite stock or ditch your least favorite one in less than 27 seconds? That's what we're doing over at Motley Fool CAPS. Check out our new stock videos.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a fan of iRobot, but he does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. iRobot is a Rule Breakers choice. The Fool has a disclosure policy.