Volatility champ



rose 7% Tuesday on the strength of a press release trumpeting follow-on weapons orders by three law-enforcement agencies, one of which it declined to name, and new business with a fourth.

The stock, which boasts 73% short interest and trades with a beta approaching 4, jumped $1.94 to $28.57 on news of the contracts, which Taser said totaled $724,000. Taser common shares have traded for as little as $3.40 and as much as $64.15 over the last 52 weeks.

Taser said police in Glendale, Ariz., ordered 196 weapons, completing the "arming of 351 officers," while the department in Pinellas County, Fla., placed a follow-on order for 176 stun-guns. In Fremont, Calif., the police department ordered 169 guns, and Taser said it got a "substantial follow-on order" from an unnamed agency.

The safety of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Taser's "conducted energy" guns has been a point of much public debate over the last year, with the company repeatedly denying claims that the weapons don't live up to claims they are "non-lethal" and haven't been adequately tested.

"It speaks volumes to have large orders continue to come in despite the media attention concerning the proven safety of Taser technology," Taser said Tuesday. "The fact remains that our Taser technology is out on the streets saving lives and reducing injuries and deaths everyday. Despite the media attention, our July 2004 sales were over two times the sales of July 2003. At this point in time, we are tracking to our plan for the third quarter."

The company is supposed to earn 15 cents a share on revenue of $17.5 million in the third quarter, according to Thomson First Call.