Nvidia’s graphics processing hardware has proven an ideal way to complete the intensive number-crunching required by most AI applications, and Microsoft has arguably acquired a number of artificial intelligence companies, garnering some new and impressive technologies it has yet to turn into a practical product. Those products are in the works, though.
Artificial Intelligence Stocks — the Wave of the Future
Many more organizations have waded into artificial intelligence waters, however — more than you might realize. A bunch of them are smaller and, perhaps, even unknown names. That doesn’t make them inferior AI stocks, however. Indeed, many of these unknown names rank among the best artificial intelligence stocks available to investors today.
With that as the backdrop, here’s a run-down of three AI names you may not have realized were artificial intelligence plays — if you realized they existed at all.
Xilinx, Inc. (NASDAQ:XLNX) isn’t exactly off the radar. On the other hand, with a modest market cap of $17 billion, it’s not exactly turning a lot of heads either.
Give it time, though.
Xilinx, for the unfamiliar, makes a variety of technologies that connect (usually) dissimilar things. That can mean a lot, of course, but Xilinx does a lot of different things. Its big claim to fame within the world of AI stocks is the development of high-performance FPGAs, or Field Programmable Gate Arrays.
FPGAs can be, as the name suggests, programmed and reprogrammed on the fly by a coder that needs a device to do something not previously foreseen. That’s in contrast with ASIC chips, or Application-Specific Integrated Circuits, which can only be programmed once at the time as they’re being manufactured.
It seems like a minor benefit, but the flexibility of FPGAs has proven indispensable in many machine-learning environments, and edge computing in particular.
It’s not the high-end artificial applications like self-driving vehicles. Rather, much of Xilinx’s wares are the low-brow stuff, like managing sensors that make Internet of Things networks work as they should. That’s where the tangible, practical opportunity is though.
Baidu Inc (ADR)
Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU)? The same Baidu that’s usually described as the “Google of China” is also an artificial intelligence stock? Yep. In fact, it may quietly be one of the best artificial intelligence stocks one can own.
To be clear, AI is still a very small sliver of what the company does. Its meat-and-potatoes business is still advertising revenue generated operating China’s preferred search engine. Just like its western counterpart, though, it’s branching out into other opportunities, knowing there will come a time when online ads are no longer a growth engine.
That said, Baidu CEO Robin Li has made no bones about it: Baidu is now an AI-first company, whatever that ends up meaning.
One such practical (even if bold) effort is the development of an open-source autonomous driving platform. Called Apollo, the platform’s openness to all developers and tweaks has proven popular with potential partners. In the meantime, Baidu has created some more practical artificial intelligence tools like a smart speaker dubbed Little Fish VS1. Yes, it’s akin to the Echo from Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN). The underlying technology powering the Little Fish holds tremendous promise as the digital backbone for a whole host of IoT devices.
Last, but certainly not least, put Yext Inc (NYSE:YEXT) on your list of artificial intelligence stocks worth a look.
The short version of a long story: While many AI developers are proverbially swinging for the fences in hopes of a payoff down the road, Yext is creating practical AI-driven services here and now. Specifically, Yext has developed ways to turn the mountains of data most companies are now collecting into actionable intelligence.
At first glance, it might not even look like true artificial intelligence. It may look and feel more like a well-planned means of repackaging information that already exists in a difficult-to-use format. Take a closer look, though, and one can see that its platform understands certain contexts and its AI-powered chatbot for use by client companies wouldn’t function properly just using a mere script.
Sexy? Not in the least. What is sexy, however, is the 32% revenue growth forecasted for this year with the same growth rate expected next year. Clearly the company’s doing something right.
As of this writing, James Brumley did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities. You can follow him on Twitter, at @jbrumley.