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We've all done it: You click "Confirm Purchase" on an e-commerce site and, in as little as 20 hours, your package arrives on your doorstep (or, increasingly, at a "smart" secure package delivery hub).
It's usually a seamless, hassle-free process. And more and more these days you've got high-tech robots and intricate logistics AI to thank for it.
Take FedEx, for instance. Their largest shipping hub is a marvel of modern robotics that would put "Star Trek" to shame. Each and every day, 1.4 million parcels arrive, and thanks to automation tech, each parcel is ready to move in as little as 15 minutes.
It can sort 500,000 packages every hour, and it's a big reason why FedEx has the confidence to offer coast-to-coast shipping in less than 24 hours - a distance of some 2,500 miles covered in one night.
Impressive... but the best part is, the same $158 billion technology that allows FedEx to easily "accomplish the impossible" is coming into Americans' homes...
The Robots Aren't Coming - They're Already Here
FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) had a pressing problem on its hands.
It needed to protect Memphis, Tenn.-based "WorldHub" employees from the coronavirus pandemic, but at the same time, it had to absorb a pandemic-fueled double-digit surge in demand.
So it turned to state-of-the-art robots, installing just four of them there in Memphis. And those four robots really did the trick.
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Each one has arms that can closely approximate human movements. They spend eight hours a day sorting 1,300 packages every hour from bins onto a conveyor belt - no restroom or coffee breaks required.
They're more than just a set of arms, though. Each robot has advanced cameras that, much like new smartphones and self-driving cars, provide depth perception. Their artificial intelligence (AI) "brains" are capable of machine learning; they can learn on the job and adapt to unforeseen situations just like a person can.
And it's those special technological capabilities that are bringing robots off of assembly lines and out of shipping hubs and into our living rooms. No wonder Mordor Intelligence is projecting 25% growth every year until at least 2025; robotics will be a $158 billion a year industry by then, and this company will command $11 billion of that tidy figure.
IRobot Corp. (NASDAQ: IRBT) is bringing those robots along. It's the world leader in the exploding field of consumer robotics - and it's one of the best, savviest firms in the entire sector.
That's why it's sold more than 30 million robots... so far.
Its most popular product, by far, is the now-familiar robotic vacuum cleaner (RVC) known as the Roomba. They're so popular, they've exploded beyond a cult following; people assign their Roombas genders and give them names. Some folks think of them as pets.
These low-profile, autonomous vacuum cleaners zip and buzz around the house, cleaning, sparing the resident humans from the chore.
Few realize exactly how advanced the Roomba is - that's how popular and widespread they are.
A fairly sophisticated AI uses upward-facing cameras and lateral motion sensors to "know" where it is in your house; it will quickly build a map for itself and commit it to memory. A Roomba knows where its charging station is, and some of them even "deposit" what they've vacuumed up there, so they can go longer without being emptied.
Importantly, Roomba's AI is clever enough to figure out where to vacuum and where not to go. People trust them enough to leave them alone as they go about their assigned work.
But there's a lot more going on than just Roomba - iRobot is planning on sending an entire automated cleaning crew. The company sells Braava robotic mops, robotic Terra lawnmowers, and for the kids, the Root, which teaches your child to code computer programs to make their own robot.
This Is an $11 Billion Tech Segment
Now, if robotics as a whole is expected to hit $158 billion in four years, iRobot reckons domestic robotics represent an immediate addressable market worth $11 billion - that's better than double the size back in 2012.
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Again, I think they're being conservative, because the technology continues to get more and more impressive - and easier to sell.
For instance, consumers can easily integrate and coordinate their iRobot "squads." By connecting them to your home Wi-Fi network, they can be controlled from any smartphone. You could, for instance, have Roomba and Braava tidy up for a party while you're out buying the ice. Instant alerts are available should there be a problem - or if the dustbin needs to be emptied. Newer models communicate with each other and schedule their work on a room-by-room basis. Braava, for instance, can check in with Roomba to ensure it mops only where Roomba has already vacuumed.
And, yes, they are voice-controllable with Alexa and Google Assistant.
iRobot Boasts an Impressive Bottom Line
I could see how it might be charming or even whimsical to think of a team of robots cleaning up the house, but iRobot's books are serious business. In the third quarter of 2020, they showed a 72% jump in earnings; sales grew by an impressive 43%.
IRobot's innovation shows up in the firm's earnings reports, too. In the third quarter of 2020, iRobot reported a 72% jump in earnings, while sales grew by 43%.
I'm projecting per-share profit growth of 24% a year for the foreseeable future, which means, at that rate, doubled profits by 2024.
You'd think performance like that would be expensive, but at $122 a share, it only seems that way. IRobot sports an unbelievably "cheap" price/earnings ratio of 22.5 - that's more than 12 points less than the entire Nasdaq's five-year average. In my book, IRBT shares are a bona fide steal; the $11 billion domestic robotics market is theirs to dominate.
Home robotics is only one potentially lucrative tech investing trend I'll be researching this year for my Nova-X Report readers - I expect aerospace, defense, "fintech," and, in particular, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin - a "digital gold rush" that could show everyday investors 1,000% gains by 2026 - to play a huge role in generating wealth in 2021. You can go right here to learn how to subscribe.
About the Author
Michael A. Robinson is a 36-year Silicon Valley veteran and one of the top tech and biotech financial analysts working today. That's because, as a consultant, senior adviser, and board member for Silicon Valley venture capital firms, Michael enjoys privileged access to pioneering CEOs, scientists, and high-profile players. And he brings this entire world of Silicon Valley "insiders" right to you...
- He was one of five people involved in early meetings for the $160 billion "cloud" computing phenomenon.
- He was there as Lee Iacocca and Roger Smith, the CEOs of Chrysler and GM, led the robotics revolution that saved the U.S. automotive industry.
- As cyber-security was becoming a focus of national security, Michael was with Dave DeWalt, the CEO of McAfee, right before Intel acquired his company for $7.8 billion.
This all means the entire world is constantly seeking Michael's insight.
In addition to being a regular guest and panelist on CNBC and Fox Business, he is also a Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer and reporter. His first book Overdrawn: The Bailout of American Savings warned people about the coming financial collapse - years before the word "bailout" became a household word.
Silicon Valley defense publications vie for his analysis. He's worked for Defense Media Network and Signal Magazine, as well as The New York Times, American Enterprise, and The Wall Street Journal.
And even with decades of experience, Michael believes there has never been a moment in time quite like this.
Right now, medical breakthroughs that once took years to develop are moving at a record speed. And that means we are going to see highly lucrative biotech investment opportunities come in fast and furious.
To help you navigate the historic opportunity in biotech, Michael launched the Bio-Tech Profit Alliance.
His other publications include: Strategic Tech Investor, The Nova-X Report, Bio-Technology Profit Alliance and Nexus-9 Network.