Robotic Stocks

Soon, robots could be doing much more than just vacuuming your house or assembling your next car-they could also invade your investment portfolio. That’s the gist of a slew of recent reports on the industry’s rapid growth. Here’s some insight from a recent one by the Boston Consulting Group:

  • Today, robots perform roughly 10% of all manufacturing tasks, but BCG sees that jumping to about 25% by 2025.
  • By the same year, automation will cut manufacturing labor costs by 18% to 33% in countries like South Korea, China, the U.S., Japan and Germany, while boosting productivity by up to 30%.
  • It’s not only cheaper labor that’s driving the automation trend, it’s cheaper robots: the cost of an advanced robotic spot welder, for example, has dropped 27% since 2005, according to BCG, from an average of $182,000 to $133,000. The consulting firm sees that price tag slipping a further 22% by 2025.

As eye-catching as these figures are, there’s a good chance they may be conservative. In March, just one month after BCG’s report came out, the International Federation of Robotics said industrial robot sales had surged 27% in 2014, to 225,000 units, breaking through the 200,000 mark for the first time.

That’s bad news if you’re a factory worker, but there’s a silver lining, because all of these new robots will require more skilled techs to operate and maintain them. For investors, the shift is a clear sign that the biggest gains in robotics still lie ahead.

 If you’re looking for the industry’s fastest growth, you’ll want to pay particular attention to what’s happening on the consumer/office side, where sales are set to grow at a 17% compound annual rate between 2014 and 2019, according to a May report from Business Insider — seven times quicker than the industrial-robot market. In addition, a number of radical new applications for robotics are emerging in the medical and defense markets, as outlined in this presentation from Investing Daily.
 Even though the automation trend is clearly set, there still aren’t many pure ways for investors to play it. But that doesn’t mean there are no intriguing options out there.

 

Investing in themes like robotics, 3D printingsynthetic biology, or nanotechnology isn’t easy to do sometimes given that most truly disruptive technologies are in early stages and not so many investing opportunities exist for retail investors. There are any number of exciting startups to invest in but most are off access to retail investors unless they IPO or are acquired by a publicly traded company. It is this “lack of opportunity” that over-the-counter (OTC) companies try to take advantage of when they target excited retail investors who saw the Dateline special on stem cell research and now want to dump half their life savings into it. Whenever looking at a theme to invest in, you should always diversify across multiple stocks to reduce risk (and never invest in OTC companies). This is why ETFs are so popular.

Let’s take the theme of “robots or robotics”. You don’t need to educate the public about what robotics technology is capable of. Whether accurate or not, we’ve been inundated with ideas of what robots are capable of thanks to Hollywood’s liberal use of this futuristic technology in movies. While some see robots as threatening our livelihoods, others see it as a tremendous investment opportunity. There is no doubt that recent advances in technology will propel the use of robotics to unseen levels in the coming years.

 

 

Robotic Stocks : $LECO, $ABB , $ROK , $AVAV, $CGNX, $FARO, $IRBT, OLL, $ARAY, $ISRG