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What: Shares of iRobot (NASDAQ:IRBT) were showing off their artificial intelligence today, finishing up 17% after getting an upgrade following Google's purchase of another robot-maker yesterday.
So what: Following Google's acquisition of robotics lab Boston Dynamics, Raymond James gave iRobot a fat upgrade to "strong buy," just one step short of the vaunted "Ferrigno buy." iRobot makes robots for the defense industry as well as for domestic purposes such as house cleaning, including the Roomba. In fact, Raymond James was particularly jazzed about the new Roomba 800 vacuum cleaners, as well as a Swiffer-competitor Braava hardwood-cleaning robot. If you hate vacuuming as much as I do, you can see why the new-and-improved Roomba is so exciting.
Now what: iRobot is certainly pricey at a P/E of 57, but with unique products and a competitive advantage in a market with promising future potential, it's easy to see why shares command such a premium. The acquisition of Boston Dynamics is also a reminder that the robotics industry is in its infancy, and waves of consolidation and acquisitions likely await the current players as they grow. It's easy to see iRobot being acquired one day by a tech giant like IBM, for example. The only thing that concerns me is that sales growth is projected to grow by just a moderate pace of 13% next year. Clearly, this is a long-term growth story, as opposed to some tech stocks that see sales double year over year.
Fool contributor Jeremy Bowman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Google and iRobot and owns shares of Google and IBM. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.