Traeger brings touchscreens, wireless thermometers to latest grills as the company forecasts tough 2022

Traeger’s 2022 lineup is impressive. The smoker company just unveiled its latest models, and they’re packed with technology — and a very high price, with models coming in at $3,499 and $3,799.

The latest line comes as the company reports its Q4 and full-year 2021 financial results. The company sees a tough 2022, even as it reported gains on the back of going public, acquisition of wireless thermometer company Apption Labs Limited and the launch of its direct to consumer BBQ meal box division, Traeger Provisions. In 2021, consumers went on a stay-at-home COVID-19 buying spree, and Traeger reaped the benefit. But now in 2022, the market has changed, and there are numerous, lower-priced competitors following Traeger’s lead into pellet grills.

The new versions come with improvements over past grills. The company says it reworked the combustion system and there’s now a series of temperature sensors rather than just one.

A slick touchscreen sits up front and replaces the button control found on previous models. There’s still a twisty knob for dialing in the temp. Like previous models, these come with Wi-Fi capabilities that connect the grill to a smartphone app. With the app owners can control the grill, monitor temps and find recipes.

The two new Timberline pellet grills come with two Meater wireless thermometers. The company acquired the startup, Apption Labs Limited, in 2021, and these grills are the first to come with the novel gadgets.

Thankfully — and I say that as a Traeger owner — there’s a new ash and grease trap system. It’s said this version is easier to clean and maintain. That’s good news, because cleaning the grease trap is one of my least favorite things about using a Traeger.

I’ve used Traeger grills for several years, and always found the results impressive. For the most part, it’s as easy as operating an oven. Just set the temp, and forget it — just watch the pellet storage hopper because sometimes it doesn’t properly load the auger. And sometimes, the grill fails to heat properly. And sometimes the auger fails, and sometimes the igniter needs replacing (twice on mine, but it’s easy to do it yourself).

The company recently reported its Q4 and 2021 performance. While reporting an increase of revenue, the stock is trading at an all-time low as of this report’s publication. Traeger (NYSE: COOK) saw a net loss of $88.8 million in 2021, and a shrinking gross profit margin that dropped to 37.4% in 2021Q4, down 80 basis points compared to the previous year.

The company is forecasting slight gains in 2022, with a forecast of total revenue hitting between $800 and $850 million, a tick higher than 2021’s reported $785.5 million. During the first quarter of 2022, the company expects a decline in year over year sales due to consumer sentiment around discretionary spending, and 2021 Q1 was driven by an unexpected increase in demand.