On Monday, the U.S. Navy announced a $26 million contract with iRobot
Roadside explosives have become a major challenge to the military. Just as abandoned landmines have always caused casualties, bombs purposely placed along roads traveled by U.S. forces abroad have created chaos, countless injuries, and a few fatalities.
That's why sending out a fleet of iRobot's next-generation mobile robots to detect and disarm the explosives has become a critical component of reducing the number of casualties in the Iraqi war over the past three years.
This involvement ultimately creates a peculiar double life for iRobot. Most consumers associate the company with its Roomba vacuum-cleaning robots and its new line of Scooba floor-mopping automatons.
Saving time around the house, and saving lives everywhere else? That wouldn't be too shabby a slogan for the company. It also reflects iRobot's unlikely presence in defense contracting, a realm where folks usually think of big names like Lockheed Martin
Still, iRobot isn't the first company to toil in household appliances while it aids the military -- thanks, General Electric
It also has the most room for growth. As popular as the Roomba has been, with 1.5 million units sold over the past few years, it has penetrated just 1% of the North American market. The company earned only $0.11 a share last year, but did so on a 49% spike in revenues.
Shares of iRobot were singled out three months ago to Rule Breakers newsletter subscribers. It's the kind of groundbreaking company that wins high marks when the premium research service seeks out disruptive technologies. No matter where you may stand on the war in Iraq, you would be hard-pressed to find someone opposed to sending out more iRobot tactical robots to clear the way for convoys instead of risking more casualties.
The more you get to know iRobot, the more you realize you may stumbled into one of the coolest companies this side of surgical-robotics specialist Intuitive Surgical
Feel like a Rule Breaker now, do you? Check out David Gardner's growth stock newsletter as part of a free 30-day trial subscription, to see whether cool stocks like iRobot belong in your portfolio.
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. The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.