Time-strapped homeowners know all about Roomba, the stylish robotic disk that goes scurrying around the floor sucking up dirt without human guidance. The company behind the Roomba -- and its less popular floor-washing Scooba sibling -- is Massachusetts-based iRobot (IRBT).
Vacuuming and mopping floors isn't all that iRobot does. The company also has dedicated consumer products that seamlessly clean roof gutters and scrub down swimming pools. However, some would argue that iRobot does its most important work away from the home.
iRobot is a major player in defense robotics. Its all-terrain PackBot has saved countless lives by detonating roadside bombs, keeping soldiers and first responders out of harm's way. There are also maritime robots from iRobot's arsenal patrolling the waterways.
However, there is something else that iRobot does: It beats the stuffing out of Wall Street's profit targets.
This Is No Robot Chicken
iRobot posted another blowout quarter on Tuesday night.
Revenue climbed 28% to $120.4 million in the third quarter. Earnings more than doubled, though $0.50 a share in profitability becomes $0.38 a share once you back out a one-time tax benefit. It's still a monster showing on the bottom line. Analysts were banking on an adjusted profit of $0.26 a share after watching iRobot earn $0.27 a share a year earlier.
Investors should be used to this by now. iRobot has blown past the pros on a quarterly basis for more than two years. Let's go over the past four quarters to admire the magnitude of iRobot's victories over Wall Street.
Source: Thomson Reuters.
The cherry on top of Tuesday night's report is that iRobot is revising its outlook for all of 2011 sharply higher.
Robotics are no longer science fiction. There are plenty of publicly traded companies that specialize in futuristic gadgetry improving industries today. Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) is the company behind the da Vinci robotic arm that is transforming the way surgical incisions are done in some procedures. The da Vinci robot is no threat to surgeons, and it actually helps reduce surgeon fatigue.
Up in the air, AeroVironment (AVAV) makes unmanned aircraft vehicles. These flying robots can spy on the other guys, as well as monitor borders and oil pipelines closer to home.
Small robotics are here. Don't be worried, just lift your feet to give your Roomba space to do what it does best.
Longtime Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any of the stocks discussed in this article. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of iRobot, AeroVironment, and Intuitive Surgical.
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