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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

iRobot Rethinking Business Model

The market has been disappointed about iRobot's earnings outlook for 2012 and send the stock down 33 percent. (1) A chock for many investors and robot fans, who dreamed of the robotics renaissance, American recovery and all-time-high. iRobot, founded in 1990 as a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, iRobot (Nasdaq: IRBT), went public in 2005 and has since then grown into a $465 million global company. With more than 7 million cleaning robots shipped all over the world the company is the market leader in home robotics.
In the last years iRobot has become more and more dependent of the home robot sales that account now  for 70% of total revenue. In 2011 iRobot has shipped 1.371 million home robots with an average gross selling price of $207. International sales of home robots has increased with 28 percent, while domestic sales only grew 6 percent. This indicates that it is harder to attract US consumers without a major upgrade or innovation of smarter navigation and cleaning technology for years. iRobot's technology is no longer state-of-the-art compared with competitors and also the product design seems old fashioned.
New platforms and Acquisition 
In 2011 iRobot unveiled plans to expand into new market segments with its new AVA mobile platform in partnership with Intouch Health, a $ 20 million remote telemedicin robotics business with installations at about 400 hospitals. Februari 1, 2012 iRobot announced the investment of $ 6 million in Intouch Health to build a stronger position in the expanding telepresence robotics market. A takeover of Intouch Health in the future might be a logical step in iRobots growth strategy.

(1) Only days before the Q4 and 2011 operating results report company insiders including CEO,  CFO and division chiefs sold 75.000 shares at trade prices $31.81-$37.99, making a profit between 20-33 percent.

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