iRobot’s Giant Sucking Sound – WSJ

There’s perhaps no perfect time to launch a $1,000 vacuum, but there are certainly some bad ones.

For

iRobot
,

that happened to be in the second quarter. The maker of the popular Roomba line of robot vacuums launched its latest iteration called the s9 in late May with a starting price tag of $999. Unfortunately, that is also when tariffs on goods imported from China kicked in. iRobot thus had to raise the price of its already-pricey new vac by $100 to compensate, along with similar increases across several of its other models.

An iRobot Roomba 980.


Photo:

handout/Reuters

Those price increases had a predictable effect on the company’s performance. iRobot’s sales missed Wall Street’s forecasts for the second quarter and the company cut its full-year projection as well. The company said on a conference call Wednesday morning that the new s9 vacuums are selling “consistent with our previous expectations.” But the stock has still shed nearly 19% since the report, sending its shares close to a new 52-week low.

iRobot says it is working to move more production out of China, with major production in Malaysia expected to be under way by the end of the year. Supply chains don’t clean up quite as fast as pet hair.

Write to Dan Gallagher at dan.gallagher@wsj.com

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