Vocera Communications is dearly valued relative to its present level of sales and red ink has been flowing for several years. However, 2015 has been a transformational year. Sales have started to grow and the losses are attenuating. A few years back it was largely dependent upon communications “badges” largely worn by nurses in hospitals, and it was challenged by new text messaging technologies. With a fair amount of development spending and some well-conceived, financially reasonable acquisitions, we think recent quarters indicate it seems to be gaining traction on an enterprise level. How is this affecting clinical systems, and is it improving patient care and streamlining workflow?
Shares of Taser International (TASR) retreated dramatically ever since the riots in Ferguson, MO dominated the headlines in early 2015, about one year ago. Is the decline because of fundamental factors such as Motorola’s decision to enter the body cam and evidence management business, or is it more from the passage of an unpleasant psychological milestone in race relations? Are international cities rethinking their need for conductive electric weapons or body cameras in the wake of the European Union’s 911 moment in Paris last November?
In part 1 of our discussion of Taser International stock, we explore how there are two segments. Its conductive electronic weapons (CEWs) enjoy extraordinarily high profitability with mid-30’s operating margins fully burdened, and competition barely exists. The other segment is Axon, which contains its emerging evidence.com cloud-based evidence management system, which reduces paperwork for police officers, helps manage the multi-million dollar risks of large civil settlements, and organizes cases prosecutors advance to convict criminals. Institutional managers of equities might pass over shares of Taser, because they appear expensive based upon the combined corporate earnings from both segments. We believe such an approach is deficient, because profits in CEWs are undercut by losses in Axon, where the company is accommodating large trials with cities such as New York and London that might soon purchase a subscription to evidence.com. In our opinion, Taser showcases how GARP Research has found interesting opportunities for its institutional equity research clientele through intensive fundamental research and deep understanding of how to analyse stocks through modelling financial statements and segment details.
In part 2 of this stock research podcast discussing Entellus Medical, we explore the rough an tumble world of how rivals in the medical device industry can vary from raising a hundred million dollars for companies that wind up having minimal revenues and fail, to the foibles of industry giants such as Johnson and Johnson, which can be outwitted by small, nimble competitors such as Entellus Medical. We also share with you the lurid side of small companies that raise capital from investors who think new technology can be a panacea, when in reality just a few innovators succeed. Even when a company develops an advance to the industry’s state of the art, it isn’t a lead-pipe cinch that it won’t fall prey to the political leverage a well-connected political contributor and lobbyist might exert to quash treatments that would save money for insurers, improve outcomes for patients, and raise incomes for doctors, as incredible as that may seem to those who unquestionably support either the left or right ends of the political spectrum.