We’re always looking for the next big thing around the corner, but what if those technologies were already here?
In 1975, you had to pay $5 million for a supercomputer that performed as well as an Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 4; in the 1980s, autonomous cars were piloted solely by David Hasselhoff.
Today, the technology has finally caught up to our collective imaginations, and industries as we know them are going to see disruptive innovations that turn current business models on their side faster than the dreamworld in a Chris Nolan film.
Let’s look at three disruptor technologies that we’ll all be talking about soon, and the companies looking to develop them today.
3 Disruptors: Advanced Robotics
By 2025, the field of advanced robotics will be part of several disruptive technologies making up trillions in economic value. One company that may benefit is Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC), having successfully launched the first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from a naval carrier in 2013. NOC is continuing to innovate in autonomous technologies for pilotless fighter crafts.
NOC stock is up more than 30% the last year. NOC will report earnings on April 22, and if current bullish EPS trends and last year’s earnings are any indication, Northrop Grumman will likely surprise on analyst estimates.
Accuray Incorporated (NASDAQ:ARAY) is an innovator in medical robotics, the field housing the most valuable of all service robots at roughly $1.5 million a pop and accounting for nearly half of the sales value of professional service robots.
ARAY debuted its CyberKnife System in 2001, and last year unveiled the CyberKnife M6 series, which allows surgeons to more precisely treat tumors. ARAY stock is up 20% in the last three months; it has a high price target of $12 and a low target of $10.
While earnings per share are negative, ARAY should see around 10% growth in its revenue over the next year thanks to several new product launches in 2015.
Another company, iRobot Corporation (NASDAQ:IRBT), may be best known for its Roomba line of robotic vacuums. While IRBT faces increasing competition in the consumer robot space, its revenue is expected to increase by 13% this year and another 14% next year.
For the last four quarters, IRBT surprised on earnings by as much as 45% and IRBT stock now has a high target of $44 and a low of $32, less than half a point below its current price.
3 Disruptors: Virtual Reality
I think it’s safe to assume a lot of business journalists would love to see Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) trip on its own ambition, but let’s shoot straight here — FB revenue is expected to grow nearly 40% this year and another 30% over the next, and FB has been on an earnings surprise streak.
Like its Instagram deal, FB’s $2 billion deal for Oculus VR caught some flack, but virtual reality is heating up this year after decades of a “will it or won’t it” attitude.
FB promises to pump a billion Oculus Rift units into consumers’ hands, and it’s likely the Oculus Rift could be the first device to stimulate virtual reality in every industry. A similar comment was made by former Epic Games designer Cliff Bleszinski:
“People are trying to shoehorn VR into a one-sized-fits-most type of experience without looking at it as a variety of experiences, for a variety of people, for a variety of income levels. I still maintain that anyone who hasn’t experienced at least one of the three systems that I did needs to shut the heck up and hold their tongues until they do, because there’s two types of folks in this world, those that doubt VR and those that have truly seen it.”
Sony Corp (ADR) (NASDAQ:SNE) is leading the console VR race with Project Morpheus, running on a 1080-pixel HD display supporting a 100-degree field of view and 120 frames per second. SNE is aiming for an early 2016 launch.
While SNE ran into a rough patch over the last year, SNE stock is up more than 30% this year and, coupled with its leading console position and VR technology, is looking like a solid buy. Analysts set a high target of $36.80 for SNE stock, and a low of $35.60. So even if SNE stock hits the low, it’s still gain of roughly 28% from today.
Notable mentions in VR go to Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) with its HoloLens, which is technically augmented reality — a slightly different sort of beast, but a disruptor indeed — and the HTC Corp Vive, running Steam VR courtesy of Valve. The Vive is probably the VR device that impressed audiences the most.
3 Disruptors: Autonomous Vehicles
We’re living in a world where our cars will soon be smarter than some of our friends. Ground transport is in for a revolution as our economy benefits from the value added by smart systems assisting drivers in steering, braking and avoiding a fiery crash.
And it’s not traditional automakers getting in on the race.
Nvidia Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA), notably a maker of graphics for desktop computers and mobile devices, is bringing its Tegra K1 processor chip to market, essentially a programmable supercomputer for your car that replaces the need for “fixed-function chips” while continuously improving software functions over time.
Nvidia’s chip also detects when your car crosses into another lane and warns when getting too close to other cars.
NVDA stock is currently a buy on the dip, with a relative strength index over the past month well into oversold territory despite forecasts of back-to-back 5% revenue gains for the next two years and a strong history of surprising on earnings.
Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is planning an auto-steering feature for its Model S line in the next three to six months. Tesla’s automated steering isn’t a shift to completely autonomous, as it works only on certain highways and is meant as assistance rather than driverless tech.
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL) is currently testing its own driverless tech, possibly planning a taxi service similar to the Uber model, a private company that in turn is developing its own autonomous tech with Carnegie Mellon.
The future is already here, folks.
As of this writing, John Kilhefner did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.