IRobot latest robotics maker to benefit from investor interest

IRobot may be known primarily for its Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner. But analysts are shining a spotlight on the company, thanks to increasing interest from tech giants such as Google and Amazon.

Maker of Roomba vacuum has seen shares soar amid takeover speculation

IRobot may be known primarily for its Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner. But analysts are shining a spotlight on the company, thanks to the increasing interest from tech giants such as Google and Amazon.

Shares of iRobot have doubled this year amid an investor stampede to robotic products and the companies that make them. 

The most recent boost to iRobot's shares came Tuesday following a bullish upgrade from an analyst at Raymond James.

"We see new products catalyzing the 'robot technology' story and inflating the [price-to-earnings] multiple appropriately," analyst Brian Gesuale wrote in a research report. 

The analyst based his enthusiasm primarily on the company's range of new robotic floor cleaners, which he said will boost sales. He also upgraded the stock to a "strong buy." 

Robotic purchases

Google's purchase last week of military robotics maker Boston Dynamics also had iRobot shares rising. Google has bought eight robotics companies this year. Google is also working on a self-driving car.

Earlier this month, Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos said his company was testing unmanned robotic drones that it hopes will soon deliver packages to customers. 

The aim would be half-hour delivery. The company hopes to deploy the drones within five years.

Colin Angle, iRobot's CEO and co-founder, said in an emailed statement to The Associated Press that the recent announcements from Google and Amazon about their robotic acquisitions "speak to the value being provided by practical robot companies."

Besides robotic vacuums and mops aimed at the consumer market, iRobot also makes reconnaissance and bomb disposal robots for the U.S. military. 

With files from The Associated Press

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