Shareholders in Taser International
In case you're new to this sordid tale, Taser's shares have been shellacked over the past few months, and part of the reason -- according to the talking heads in the financial press -- has been fear of competition from Stinger.
On this point, the breezy, easy-soundbite business writers have been completely wrong. If only they'd dug a little deeper. I did, and what I found was pretty interesting, to say the very least. Back then, I expressed doubt that Stinger would get its act together and enter the market with a truly competitive product, much less make a good run at Taser. The folks at Stinger didn't like this opinion, but so far, the facts have borne out my suspicions.
Yesterday, Stinger filed yet another amended registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Stinger is pretty good at putting out press when it has good news to report. I could find no accompanying press release.
That's unfortunate, but not surprising, because the news here is definitely of the not-so-good variety. Just about everything is going wrong with stun-gun production, and the unit -- formerly promised for the already-ended first quarter -- may not even appear before Q3 of 2005. Here's a tidbit:
After producing numerous versions of the Stinger projectile stun gun, the Company began limited production on March 20, 2005. Inefficiencies discovered in the design hampered production and required correction before volume commercial production could commence. These inefficiencies included the mold design, electronics design, camera mount, design of the ammunition cartridges, internal packaging and numerous assembly issues..
We finally got a few details on the abrupt resignation of the formerly much-hyped management team that came from Smith & Wesson Holdings
And there's another surprise departure. CFO, Secretary, and Vice Chairman T. Yates Exley -- the commercial-banking business partner who co-founded Stinger with CEO Robert Gruder -- also resigned his management positions. Judge this interesting exit as you see fit.
The stock now trades at $4 and change, from a high of near $50 only a few months back. The lessons here are clear: You can often tell how a company is going to perform based on how its leaders have performed in the past. And when you go out looking for market-beating technology Rule Breakers -- like Taser -- stick with the company that's way ahead of the game, and leave the also-rans to others.
For related Foolishness:
- Beware of a company that tries to hide bad news.
- 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.
- Of course, Taser's got issues of its own, including some recent unwanted buzz.