NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- In this digital age, some companies have to do more to stay competitive.
Zebra Technologies (ZBRA) - Get Zebra Technologies Corporation Class A Report is one company that has added the Internet -- and acquisitions -- to its 46-year-old thermal label printer business. The strategy appears to be working. The printer company's revenue is growing by double-digit rates.
Its shares closed at $89 ahead of its fourth-quarter and full-year financial results Tuesday. Shares are up nearly 15% for the year to date. In the past three months, the stock has soared almost 20%, culminating in almost 30% gains in 12 months. Why? Customers want its direct thermal and thermal transfer label printers. These print and read bar codes, receipts, plastic ID employee badges, wristbands. It also makes radio frequency identification (RFID) printer/encoders.
Zebra also helps companies with asset-tracking technologies that use its barcodes and RFID in mobile devices and wireless technologies. But the biggest thing in Zebra's future is the Internet of Things.
Research firm IDC released its global market predictions for 2015, projecting that spending on the Internet of Things will exceed $1.7 trillion this year, jumping 14% above 2014 levels. Nearly 15 billion devices will be sold in 2015, the firm predicts. By 2020, spending on the Internet of Things will climb to $3 trillion, nearly doubling the number of devices sold (30 billion devices), IDC estimates.
So that means Zebra is investing in diversifying its products to meet these emerging technology trends.
At the same time, the company is growing the old-fashioned way -- through acquisitions. Last October, Zebra completed its $3.45 billion acquisition of Motorola Solutions' (MSI) - Get Motorola Solutions, Inc. Report Enterprise Solutions business. The deal gave Zebra more exposure to mobile platforms and other advanced technologies.
"The Motorola ES buyout really gets Zebra into a whole new opportunity in the Internet of Things, in the cloud," said Elliott Schlang, managing director of Great Lakes Review, an institutional research boutique in Cleveland.
For the quarter and full year ended Dec. 31, the company is projected to earn $1.19 and $3.95 per share, respectively, representing year-over-year increases of 45% and 50%. Fourth-quarter and full-year revenue are expected to grow year over year at 175% and 60%, respectively, reaching $783 million and $1.66 billion.
Despite the stock's already strong gains in 2015, analysts maintain their consensus buy rating, with an average 12-month price target of $94. Zebra's full-year 2015 earnings are estimated to grow 41% to $5.58 per share.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.