“Robotics and the increasing use of automation represent one of the most exciting investment avenues for stock buyers in the coming decades.” –The Motley Fool
“The makers of robotics and automation systems understand that there is a growing need to improve the efficiency of production in several sectors of the overall economy. With the increasing penetration of information technology in manufacturing and the explosion of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), the already well-established robotics sector is entering a new round of long-term growth that should propel many of the companies involved even higher.”
There are four distinct groups worthy of consideration for these #1 and #2 candidates:
Motely Fool has put together three excellent articles about investing in robotics:
Is ABB the “Go To” Robotics Stock? Interesting take on ABB, plus great insight into automation.
Beyond these excerpts and charts see the full articles before you get out your checkbook. Motely has done a nice job of positioning these top 10 within the converging industrial automation field.
“The traditional early adopters of automation/robotics, such as the automotive and electrical and electronics manufacturing industries, are set to lead volume growth in the near future. This is important to consider, because if these two industries turn down aggressively — as they did in 2019 — then robotics automation companies can suffer falling sales.
“All told, if you are investing in the robotics industry, you must be aware of the cyclicality of the industry, its outsized connection to China, and the fact that buying into the robotics sector will almost certainly involve exposure to industrial automation at large.”
“So what is the difference between a robot and a piece of factory automation equipment? The IFR uses the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) definition to explain that a robot is “an automatically controlled, reprogrammable, multipurpose manipulator programmable in three or more axes, which can be fixed in place or mobile in industrial automation applications.
“The robot definition makes it pretty clear that robotics is actually a subset of factory automation. For reference, automation is usually prominent in two main markets. One is factory or discrete automation (think of a bottling plant or of an assembly line of robots putting together a car), and the other is process automation, which is the automated control of raw materials (think of oil and gas refining or chemicals processing).
“So companies like FANUC, ABB, Yaskawa, and KUKA that say they are robotics companies are also factory automation companies. As you can see below, ABB is the only company to be a major player in all three markets, but Germany’s Siemens is also a major player in factory and process automation. Japan’s FANUC and KUKA (a German company now majority owned by China’s Midea) are also active in robotics and factory automation.
“The U.S. is a smaller market for robotics than Asia and even Europe. So it makes sense that more leading robotics and factory automation companies traded on U.S. markets are European (KUKA, ABB, Siemens, and Schneider) and Japanese (Yaskawa, FANUC, and Mitsubishi). The only significant U.S.-based factory automation companies are Rockwell and Emerson Electric. Emerson tried to create a U.S. automation champion in 2018 by launching a takeover bid of Rockwell that ultimately failed.
“Look out for cyclicality in all these businesses. It’s reasonable to expect faster growth from the robotics sector, but factory automation, in general, will oscillate in line with the economy. And capital spending in process automation is somewhat guided by trends in commodity prices.
ABB is an interesting company, but it has a significant amount of restructuring ahead of it. Siemens is an attractive investment that tends to pay a healthy dividend, but its industrial automation operations only make up a portion of a much larger and diversified organization. Rockwell is probably the best way for U.S. investors to get long-term direct exposure to industrial automation. As the Emerson Electric takeover bid demonstrates, Rockwell is a strategically attractive company for others looking to get exposure to the U.S. industrial automation market.”
“Before we go any further, it would help to provide a bit more explanation of what the Industrial Internet of Things is and how it relates to this sector. The IIoT is simply the process whereby web-enabled sensors are used to create data and information that will help companies better manage physical assets. An example could be the use of sensors on a gas turbine in order to predict when it will need servicing.
“Arguably the most exciting growth area among the four sectors, the growing penetration of IIoT software tools and digitization is changing how manufacturing companies manage their devices. Naturally, this is highly relevant to robotics, because as processes become automated, more and more data can be captured and utilized.
“As such, manufacturers are even more eager to robotize production, because IIoT and industrial software applications are enhancing the value of an investment in robots and automation. In a nutshell, manufacturing is probably the best way to play the IIoT revolution.
“Indeed, all leading automation companies have their own industrial software solutions or partnerships with other leading companies. For example, Siemens and Rockwell Automation dominate the market for programmable logic controllers (PLCs), and Siemens has its own product lifecycle management (PLM) software, while ABB partners with Dassault Systemes (OTC:DASTY) and Rockwell with PTC (NASDAQ:PTC). (PLM is software used to design products and physical assets and then manage them as they are used.)
Read the full story and more related stories on Asian Robotics Review