Taser Gains as Shooting Spurs Calls for Police Cameras

Taser International Inc. had the biggest weekly gain since January amid speculation demand for its police cameras will increase following riots in a Missouri town where an officer killed an unarmed teenager.

Shares of Taser, which sells cameras that can be worn by officers and attached to its stun guns, surged 9.4 percent to $13.91 in New York. The stock advanced more than 12 percent this week, the biggest gain since Jan. 10.

Unrest sparked by the shooting moved to the center of the national debate yesterday as President Barack Obama urged Americans to “step back” from violent clashes between police and protesters. Without any footage of the shooting, the incident has caused community leaders including New York City’s Public Advocate Letitia James to call for the implementation of police body cameras.

“The stock is running on more speculation that police officers may be wearing these things,” Brian Ruttenbur, an analyst at Stamford, Connecticut-based CRT Capital Group LLC, said in a phone interview. “It’s directly related to what’s happening in Missouri. That jurisdiction is probably going to get something in terms of body cams.”

The death of Michael Brown, 18, follows an incident in New York last month in which witnesses used mobile phone video to record the death of 43-year-old Eric Garner, who died during an attempted arrest. Last week in Beavercreek, Ohio, officers shot a 22-year-old man carrying a toy gun.

Fresno Police

Police in Fresno, California, began wearing Taser’s Axon cameras in September and the company said this week the department has ordered another 100 of the devices. Taser is the core provider of on-officer cameras, according to Ruttenbur of CRT Capital.

“There’s been a lot of activity, whether it’s pilots or official roll outs, in support of on-officer video,” Steve Dyer, an industrial analyst at Minneapolis-based Craig-Hallum Capital Group, said in a phone interview. “You’re seeing some pretty good evidence that mass adoption is imminent.”

Taser shares have rebounded after falling as much 49 percent from a nine-year high in February as net income declined in the second quarter. Revenue in the company’s video and digital evidence segment more than doubled to $4.5 million for the three months ended June 30 amid higher sales of cameras and an application to manage data online.

“The concept of using wearable cameras to provide a foundation of transparency has hit a tipping point,” Rick Smith, chief executive officer of Scottsdale, Arizona-based Taser, said in an e-mailed statement. “The intense emotions that arise from uncertainty and diametrically opposed conjecture about what did or did not happen in life and death encounters can tear communities apart.”

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