iRobot 4Q income up, but shares plunge on outlook

BEDFORD, Mass. (AP) ? Robot maker iRobot Corp. said its fourth quarter net income jumped 52 percent compared to the year before on strong demand for robots built for the consumer market. But the company’s shares plunged 21 percent in aftermarket trading Wednesday after it set its 2012 outlook well below expectations.

CEO Colin Angle warned that robot sales to government agencies might slow in 2012. The company’s government and industrial division makes devices like sea-diving robots that act as environmental monitors. While sales to government agencies might shrink, Angle said military contracts are likely to boost revenue in the second half of 2012.

Still, the company said it expects revenue in 2012 to be between $465 million and $485 million while net income will be between 75 cents and 95 cents per share.

That’s below the net income of $1.44 per share and revenue of $532.7 million that analysts were expecting for the year, according to FactSet.

For the current quarter, the company said it expects revenue between $90 million and $100 million and net income to be between a loss of 8 cents per share and break-even. That’s below the 31 cents in net income on $121.4 million that analysts were expecting.

The company makes an array of robots for both consumers and the defense industry. Robots for the consumer market include disc-shaped devices that automatically vacuum floors. The company also makes military robots that can dispose of bombs and carry out other dangerous jobs.

Angle said strong demand from consumers helped boost results in the fourth quarter.

The company said that its net income for the quarter ended Dec. 31 was $10.6 million, or 38 cents per share, compared to $7 million, or 26 cents per share, in the same period the year before.

Revenue during the quarter was $130.8 million, up 15 percent from $114 million during the same period the year before.

Analysts had been expecting net income of 32 cents per share on $134 million in revenue in the latest quarter.

For the full year in 2011, the company reported net income of $40.2 million, or $1.44 per share, compared to $25.5 million, or 96 cents per share, the year before.

Revenue for the year was $465.5 million, up 16 percent from $401 million in 2010.

Shares fell 8.07, or 21 percent, to $30.23 in aftermarket trading. They had risen $1.44, or 4 percent, to close at $38.30 in regular-session trading Wednesday.