Taser International

(TASR)

shares fell sharply Tuesday after the company commented on reported stock sales by executives and members of the stun-gun maker's founding family.

The Arizona-based company also said some orders could be delayed in 2005 as law enforcement agencies test guns made by rivals.

Shares were down $4.69, or 23.4%, to $15.36 as some 30 million shares changed hands, more than twice their average daily volume.

The company said "there is confusion on the issue of insider stock sales in the fourth quarter." Taser said Chairman Phil Smith, "who retired from day to day duties on Dec. 31, sold the majority of his Taser stock as part of his retirement transition."

Taser also confirmed that Tom Smith and Rick Smith, co-founders and currently the company's president and CEO, respectively, sold "a portion of their position in order to diversify their holdings."

"We have historically sold stock and have been straightforward with our investors that insiders would continue to diversify through continuing stock sales in the future."

Insider selling can sometimes alarm investors, who see it as a turning point in the direction of a stock, and in some cases, a statement on a company's future fortunes.

In acknowledging "questions regarding potential competitors and their expected effect on our sales growth," Taser also downplayed any competitive threats to its technology and role in the marketplace.

"During the first half of 2005, it is possible that we may see some delays in orders as agencies test and evaluate potential new entrants," the company said. "However, we are confident Taser is in a strong position to defend our leadership role in the marketplace."

The comments were made in what the company called an "open letter" to shareholders and customers.