Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Taser shares survive less-than-lethal market plunge

The Arizona company continues to do brisk business with local police departments, including Philadelphia's.

Taser shares survive less-than-lethal market plunge


Few stocks enjoyed the drubbing the markets gave them on Tuesday.

However, the ultimate product demonstration video may have helped buoy one stock with the slimmest of Philadelphia connections.

While the Dow Jones industrial average lost 225.06 points in a major sell-off, Taser International Inc. closed at $4.76, down only 8 cents. The Scottsdale, Ariz., maker of less-than-lethal weapons has no operations in the Philadelphia area.

But thanks to the idiocy of a teenage baseball fan, everyone knows that a Philadelphia police officer Tasered someone in centerfield during Monday night’s Phillies-Cardinals game.

Taser, like Google, is well-known enough to have become a verb. Its namesake product is often used for cheap laughs in movies and sitcoms. Unfortunately, the joke is once again on Philadelphia and its image.

The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp. was monitoring chatter and hits on various Web sites on Tuesday about the incident. But Meryl Levitz, president of the organization behind the ad campaigns aimed at drawing tourists to the region, said her office didn’t field many calls about it.

“Hopefully, it will pass by quickly,” she said.

Still, Taser has to be pleased that its stun gun worked as advertised. CEO Rick Smith told analysts on an April 23 conference call that its domestic law-enforcement business “continued to show up pretty strong” in the first quarter.

Fifty-four percent of Taser’s $23.8 million in first-quarter sales emanated from U.S. law enforcement agencies. Sales to police departments, prisons and others in that niche were up 30 percent over the same quarter of 2009.

For that, Taser can thank, in part, the federal economic stimulus spending. That’s one reason why the Philadelphia Police Department could afford to order 1,000 Taser X26 Electronic Control Devices during the fourth quarter of 2009.

The X26 is Taser’s most popular product, accounting for 52 percent of its 2009 sales, or $54 million.

And if I were you, I’d expect to see more viral video of Tasering. According to Taser’s annual report, more than 15,000 law enforcement agencies in over 50 countries have bought Tasers for testing or deployment. Rangers in 145 National Park Service locations carry X26s.

Also like Google, Taser has its competition in the less-than-lethal weapons market. For example, Stinger Systems Inc. of Tampa, Fla., has its own stun gun. Armor Holdings Inc. and PepperBall Technologies Inc. make pepper sprays and so-called impact weapons, which shoot flexible beanbags.

And of course, the Phillie Phanatic packs a mean less-than-lethal hot dog launcher.

Inquirer Columnist
We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy: comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog
Mike Armstrong blogs about Philadelphia corporations and business-related topics. Contact him at 215-854-2980. Reach Mike at

Mike Armstrong Inquirer Columnist
Also on
letter icon Newsletter