So much for that automaton-like precision.
Consumer and military robotics wunderkind iRobot
With production delays bumping the release of its Roomba 500 floor sucker, iRobot now expects to book a loss of $1 million to $1.5 million in the recently concluded third quarter on $63 million to $64 million in revenue.
It will make that up in the final quarter, right? If it's a zero-sum game, why did the stock open 5% lower this morning? Well, the market hates uncertainty.
Oh, that and the fact that the fourth-quarter salvation isn't entirely in the bag.
"There are at least three factors critical to our achieving our full-year financial projections: continued successful production of Roomba 500, strong sell through of Roomba 500 in our retail channels and no unanticipated legal expenses," CFO Geoff Clear notes in this morning's press release.
The production delays appear to be in check. Hordes of Scooba robotic scrubbers aren't running amok on the streets of New York, so one can assume the legal retainer will stay somewhat intact. The real challenge is the "strong sell-through of Roomba 500," because it's too early to tell if it will be a big mover over the holidays.
iRobot has a lot of cool consumer robots. The Scooba is a neat, programmable, hard-surface mopper. The Verro will gobble up dirt and leaves from your swimming pool. Recent introductions like the Looj gutter cleaner and the ConnectR WiFi communications appliance are niche products with promise.
However, iRobot still lives and dies on the popularity of its flagship Roomba vacuum cleaners. After all, it's the Roomba that got a nerd-blessed company like iRobot onto the sales floor of not-so-nerdy retailers like Target
Maybe some of the new non-Roomba products will be brisk sellers. Maybe its military contracts won't be so lumpy. However, the Roomba is the company's flagship product. It can't nest in a "maybe" like other potential winners in the iRobot portfolio. With an installed base of more than 2 million Roomba buyers, it's easy to assume that the consumers will take to the updated vacuum-cleaning orb like a techie to nerdcore rap. But will that demand be strong enough?
Again, the market hates uncertainty, even within the programmed certainty of robotics.
Other consumer robotics in the iRobot family: