Today, many Taser International
CEO Rick Smith blamed the disappointing numbers on negative press regarding the firm's stun guns, and this might be one of those times when we can actually believe management's explanation, because Taser's products have garnered an amazing amount of bad PR over the past few months. Frequent Taser press releases pointing to studies of the products' safety and efficacy have not been enough to buoy investors. Nor, it seems, have they convinced too many buyers.
Today's 13% spanking of this beleaguered and belabored Rule Breakers pick may mark the first time the stock has come close to sparking this investor's interest. I've got a strong suspicion that the sales slowdown is temporary.
Hey, I've been as hard on Taser as anyone else has, but I've also done my best to take a look at this market. There is one thing shareholders can bank on: Taser is the only game in Zaptown.
The so-called competition seems questionable, inept, or both. Law Enforcement Associates (OTC BB: LENF) touts a pistol that looks like something you might win at a county fair. (What is up with that sticker?) Better yet, it pays penny-stock hypesters to shill its stock while telling investors that it doesn't.
Stinger Systems (Pink Sheets: STIY) sports a CEO with a track record of crashing companies but making out fine himself. He's the kind of manager who seemingly waits nearly a month before disclosing -- at the bottom of an otherwise cheerful press release -- that his recently hired guns from Smith & Wesson Holdings
Of course, these firms' much-hyped stun gun sales remain of the "coming soon!" variety, and they'll both be exposed to exactly the same kind of safety criticism currently leveled at Taser. Yet they have no track record in the field and less financial firepower to shoot back.
No, it looks like the market for stun guns is Taser's to lose, and I doubt the firm is going to do that. The only questions for Fools who agree with my assessment are these: What price do you pay for a firm that's likely to remain under fire and might see sagging sales for a while? What kind of discount do you demand for a firm where well-timed insider sales have -- unfortunately, coincidentally, infuriatingly, pick your adverb -- treated management and directors much better than they've treated outside investors?
My answer is still "more of a discount," but yours may vary.
For related Foolishness:
- See Stinger shoot itself.
- Check out Stinger's scary CEO.
- What's the deal with my so-called journalism?
- Taser has started cleaning up its mess.
- Think you're getting the next Taser? Read this, this, and this before you bet the farm.
- Taser's got issues of its own, including some recent unwanted buzz.
Seth Jayson would rather be lightly Tased than clubbed, Maced, shot, or police-dogged. At the time of publication, he had positions in no firm mentioned. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.
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