Commercial and consumer drones are coming and they’re coming fast. For the last few months, I’ve been highlighting companies that will benefit from the many applications and markets that are about to be created as drones become mainsream over the next few years. Like it or not.
See, the most obvious applications for drones are agricultural, law enforcement and search/rescue missions. But drones (and to a further extent, robots) will also be patrolling campuses, driving buses, delivering packages and who knows what else. The cost of the components, technologies as well as the platforms that drones and robots run on are dropping to price points that make mainstream adoption inevitable.
I personally have had many hours of enjoyment as well as incredible high definition video footage from the DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter drone I recently purchased from Amazon.
A friend of mine asked me about other possible applications for drones so I reminded him of the times we felt lost in the wilderness in upstate New York while camping and hiking. Will lost hikers become mostly a thing of the past? In a few years, campers and hikers will throw a drone up in the air to get a visual on their surroundings and routes. The cost will be less than $100 for a cheap aerial hiking drone that takes snapshots and you’ll be able to get a really advanced one from Garmin and others in a few years for $1000 or more if you want all the features they’ll have by then.
So without any further ado, here are three publicly-traded companies that will directly benefit from the burgeoning drone revolution.
1. First up is IXYS. We’re talking about a company that supplies power controllers and other power chipsets that every robot, drone and wearable sold will need. The common denominator of all electronic devices, drones and robots is that they need power. Controlling that power efficiently is obviously going to be a huge factor in making drones, robots and wearables cheap enough to operate in a power-starved world. Solar-powered units that don’t need recharging still need power chips.
The company’s growing its top line at 15% per year and earnings growth will be much bigger than that if management executes. IXYS is currently valued at less than 1x sales and is seeing huge demand from industrial power and comunciations markets. With $3 per share in net cash as well as $0 debt, there’s some financial flexibility here. The company should report at least a $1 per share in earnings next year, giving it a 10 forward price to earnings ratio.
If the company’s management delivers on margins and topline growth, we’re looking at up to $2 per share in earnings in two to three years.
I first highlighted IXYS a couple years ago when I turned from long-time alt-energy bear to bull as the market finally bottomed about the same time I published my book “100 Stocks for the Clean Tech Revolution” and I recently started buying some for myself.
2. Next up is Ambarella AMBA makes chipsets and software that record and transmit/upload HD video. The company’s system-on-a-chip designs integrated HD video, image, and audio processing onto a single chip for delivering video and image quality, differentiated functionality, features, etc.
AMBA is trading at 4x sales and at at 25x forward P/E. With topline growth of 20-30% per year for the last few and for the next few years, investors are paying up a bit for this name as video capture and sharing is likely to become a bigger part of just about every connected device we use and own. The company does have nearly $7 per share in net cash again gives management some financial flexiblity. To be clear though, it’s a long way down to “cheap” if the company doesn’t deliver more topline growth in coming years.
3. The last name I’m highlighting for you today is InvenSense, which, makes and sells micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) gyroscopes for motion tracking devices for all kinds of applications including smartphones, tablets…and drones. Drone growth, again, will be huge over the next five to ten years, and this is a company that is likely to have a component or two in many of the drones that will be sold and developed.
The company’s got a $1.9BB market cap and there’s a lot of potential upside from there, but with $150MM cash along with $125 million in long-term debt, this stock isn’t as clean as the prior two picks. On the other hand, I’m looking at long-term revenue growth of at least 30% per year and potentially $3 earnings per share by 2017.
If you’d like to see other Drone Revolution stock picks, stay tuned, I’ve got more on the way. Likewise, I’d love to hear from any of you about other potential drone stock picks in the ongoing discussion here.