It's "boring" because it doesn't make gaming products or fancy semiconductors. Its business is all about making companies more productive and efficient. Corporations always need to improve productivity and enhance their customers' experiences with their products, but they don't always need to upgrade their computers or replace servers. This means that demand for Zebra's products is less likely to have boom and bust periods like other technology companies.
Zebra makes printers to create bar codes and radio frequency identification products. Some of this will be very Jetsons-like stuff. A few years from now, when your refrigerator tells you that your milk is past its expiration date, it will be reading the carton that is using Zebra's technology. Big box retailers like Wal-Mart
Zebra is also involved in the health care industry. Its bar-coding is being used to meet tougher Food and Drug Administration standards for drug labels to prevent patients from getting the wrong medicine. This stands to be a very powerful demographic catalyst for Zebra's future growth.
This all seems very exciting, which is why Zebra's shares are expensive. They trade at a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 27. The firm's price-to-sales and price-to-book ratios are 6.3 and 5.2, respectively. On the plus side, earnings are forecasted to grow by 14% this year. Zebra's revenue grew by 12% last year and is expected to grow by 20% this year. The company also has $10 per share in cash with minuscule debt.
Zebra has compelling technology, and is an excellent company. More and more companies will need its products in the future. It would not be unreasonable to see earnings and revenue expand dramatically, exceeding current expectations, in the next couple of years.
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Fool contributor Roger Nusbaum is an investment manager and wildland firefighter in Prescott, Ariz. At the time of this article, neither he nor his clients owned shares in Zebra Tecnologies.