Three months ago, investors fled from iRobot (NASDAQ:IRBT) when the company's struggling Defense and Security business suffered a temporary setback in the form of delayed orders. But now, iRobot finds itself on the happier end of such unpredictable contracts.
Shares of iRobot jumped nearly 14% in Tuesday's after-hours trading when it announced that third-quarter revenue climbed 15% year over year to $143.5 million. Better yet, that translated to an 84.6% increase in earnings per share to $0.48. Both figures were significantly higher than iRobot's own guidance, which called for revenue of $133 million to $136 million, and earnings per share of $0.32 to $0.35. Analysts, on average, were expecting earnings of only $0.33 per share on sales of $134.3 million.
Not so fast?
To be fair, iRobot CEO Colin Angle said much of that outperformance is due to several orders in both its Home Robots and D&S segments that were originally anticipated for Q4 but arrived during Q3 instead. As a result, iRobot left intact its previous full-year revenue guidance of $555 million to $565 million -- the midpoint of which is incidentally well above analysts' expectations for fiscal 2014 sales of $556 million.
Curiously, though, iRobot simultaneously raised its EPS guidance to a range of $1.20 to $1.25, up from its previous range of $1.10 to $1.20. Wall Street, for its part, was modeling 2014 earnings of only $1.14 per share. For perspective, note that iRobot's gross margin improved by 2.9 percentage points to 47.3%, including 50.7% for Home Robots, and 53.3% for its now-streamlined D&S segment.
Digging deeper into revenue, iRobot's thriving Home Robots segment led the way as usual, with sales of $132 million, representing an acceleration in growth to 19%. That includes a 13% increase in international sales to $85.2 million, and a 31% increase in domestic home robot sales to $46.8 million. We'll have to wait for tomorrow's conference call for more details, but investors can probably tip their hats to the continued sales channel expansion for iRobot's newest Roomba 800 series vacuums, early online sales for which Angle previously confirmed had "exceeded those of all other new products over the same time frame."
But that's not the only reason investors are rejoicing. iRobot's D%S business not only grew third-quarter sales by 5.7% year over year to $10.7 million but also exited the quarter with a larger backlog of $25 million. Because iRobot has already reduced its reliance on D&S amid persistent weakness and unpredictability in the space, investors are right to consider any strength in this area as icing on the cake.
A little something new
Finally (and finally!), iRobot offered an update to its early telepresence efforts, saying it sold eight Ava 500 robots to customers including AT&T. What's more, iRobot says additional Ava 500 trials are being conducted with a multinational law firm, as well as with manufacturing, pharmaceutical, and financial-services companies. In any case, that might seem surprising at first, considering those particular bots either require steep monthly lease options ranging from $2,000 to $2,500 or can be purchased outright for roughly $70,000 each. As I suggested earlier this year, however, that premium is well worth it for larger firms with employees who would otherwise need to travel often to remote sites.
In the end, there's no arguing that those earlier-than-expected orders helped contribute to the gravity of iRobot's outperformance. At the same time, however, this quarter was packed full of encouraging stats demonstrating broad strength across each of iRobot's Home Robots, Defense and Security, and emerging telepresence solutions. All things considered, that's why I can't blame the market for bidding up shares of iRobot today.
Steve Symington owns shares of Ford and iRobot. The Motley Fool recommends Ford, iRobot, and Tesla Motors and owns shares of Ford and Tesla Motors. 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.