According to Fortune Business Insights, the global AI (artificial intelligence) market in 2018 was $21 billion. It’s expected to grow 33% annually between 2019 and 2026 to $203 billion. The companies that are using the technology to grow are the stocks you want to own in the future.
These stocks to buy are companies that participate in some of the areas seeing an increase in demand for AI. Areas that include: 5G technology, connected devices, cloud-based services and applications, autonomous driving, machine learning, fintech, etc. The uses of AI are unlimited.
The companies that are willing to take risks and lean on this technology are the ones whose stocks will be rewarded. Retailers, providers of customer service, and other customer-facing businesses can benefit from the use of AI. It’s not just for business-to-business.
Here are the 10 AI stocks to buy that I see winning the race.
AI Stocks to Buy: Amazon (AMZN)
If I only could mention one company that’s using AI to rule the world, I would go with Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) every time. It is always on the leading edge when it comes to figuring out what its customers want and then giving it to them.
Fast Company recently discussed Amazon’s machine learning system Rekognition, which it sells to advertising and marketing companies, but it also sells Rekognition to police forces, immigration services, and others looking to keep an eye on the bad guys.
The ACLU recently tested the system and found that it was wrong about 20% of the time confusing California state legislators for those who have been arrested in the past and are in a public database.
“Amazon is setting us on a path where armed government agents could make split second judgements based on a flawed algorithm’s cold testimony,” stated Evan Greer, the deputy director of the digital rights advocacy group, Fight for the Future. “Innocent people could be detained, deported, or falsely imprisoned because a computer decided they looked afraid when being questioned by authorities.”
This is the downside of AI. However, somehow, I think Jeff Bezos will figure out how to make Rekognition do good rather than evil.
Why? It’s better for shareholders.
Farmers haven’t been doing too well in the last two years. It’s a big reason why Deere & Co. (NYSE:DE) is only up 4.8%, including dividends, year to date through Aug. 21, about one-quarter the performance of the U.S. total market.
On the one hand, the challenge presented to farmers of feeding a world that’s expected to be 10-billion strong by 2050, is an exciting one. However, it’s also a daunting one. After all, there are already food shortages. What’s going to happen when the world’s population hits double digits? Sheer chaos, that’s what.
However, starting in 2013, Deere began to plot a vision of the future farm where all the machinery would be autonomously operated with the farmer monitoring everything from his home. Since then, it has evolved to include AI, computer vision, and machine learning. Agriculture is surprisingly well-suited to technology despite its low-tech reputation.
“It’s very clear that we need to be on the vanguard of these technologies – there’s a lot of economic upside and profitability as well as sustainability that can be unlocked for farmers through them,” John Stone, SVP of John Deere’s Intelligent Solutions Group, told Forbes recently.
Deere acquired Silicon Valley-based Blue River in 2017 to up its tech-savviness. Since then, it has been able to take AI to the next level. Ultimately, it hopes to save its customers enough money using AI that they can plow into newer Deere equipment. It’s looking at the big picture.
Google’s search engine was created to manage public information better. Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were merely interested in creating algorithms to fine-tune the data. At its core, Google is about data analytics.
In 2014, it acquired DeepMind Technologies in the UK, and that pushed it further into AI and machine learning.
“Managers at Google Cloud want to use the corporate pedigree, and undisputed AI leadership, to help companies build new business models using data analytics and AI. You can see how that might appeal to large enterprises struggling to stay one step ahead of the next Amazon.com,” Forbes Senior Contributor Jon Markman stated in May.
Although Google Cloud is a distant third in terms of market share, well behind Amazon and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), the moves it’s making around analytics and business models is groundbreaking stuff.
It could be the beginning of the end for consultants, accountants, and all the other specialists that help large companies create new businesses.
Verint (NASDAQ:VRNT) calls itself “The Customer Engagement Company.”
It uses AI to help its customers automate certain aspects of their businesses through the use of intelligent virtual assistants (IVA) that can leverage machine learning to understand better the conversations that take place with customers while lowering the cost of providing services to its customers.
A big problem is most companies don’t know where to start when it comes to AI services.
Recently, Verint created the AI Blueprint System, a patented conversation analytics system that identifies IVA solutions that help accelerate automation.
Examples of customer savings from utilizing Verint’s AI Blueprint include one company saving as much as $1 million in customer service emails.
Recently, Verint won the Contact Center Excellence Award for Workforce Optimization Solution of the Year at the CCW Excellence Awards in Las Vegas. More importantly, four of its customers took home awards, an acknowledgment that it must be doing something right.
At the end of July, JPMorgan analyst Paul Coster raised his target price on Verint by four bucks to $78. He also added it to the company’s Analyst Focus List in the value category calling it “significantly undervalued” compared to its peers.
Twilio (NYSE:TWLO) stock was on a big roll in 2019, hitting $150 in late July, up almost double from where it ended 2018. Since then, it has lost about 15% of its value despite excellent second-quarter earnings.
Twilio, for those unaware, is a cloud-based communications company whose platform allows developers to embed voice, messaging, and video directly into software applications. It brings together voice, video, SMS, MMS, and real-time IP communications all under a single platform.
Most importantly, it’s all pay-as-you-go.
In the second quarter, Twilio’s revenue rose 86% to $275 million with a profit of 3 cents, 200% higher than its year-ago loss of 3 cents.
A big part of the company’s growth has to do with its 2018 acquisition of SendGrid for $2 billion. The email API platform improved Twilio’s cloud-computing tools.
Two years ago, I recommended the communication platform-as-a-service company’s stock. More than two years later I’m still recommending it.
IBM (NYSE:IBM) created Watson over several years leading up to its famous 2011 “Jeopardy!” showdown with past champions Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings. However, it was Watson’s victory over the two record-setting champions that put the supercomputer on the map.
That same year, Watson was made into its very own business unit. Today, Watson’s AI capabilities are helping more than 20,000 clients across 20 industries make better decisions. It has got its detractors for sure, but according to IDC, Watson is number one in AI market share.
I’ve never been a fan of CEO Ginni Rometty. I don’t think she has the tech chops to regain Big Blue’s luster. However, there’s no question Watson keeps IBM competitive in AI.
Case in point: Regions Bank, part of Regions Financial (NYSE:RF), is using Watson to improve its overall customer experience at its contact centers.
“IBM Watson’s automated intelligence is an important tool that allows us to operate more effectively by understanding customer needs. We are identifying additional use cases for this technology as part of our focus on continuous improvement across the company,” stated Regions Bank head of operations Chris Brasher in June.
At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, Watson is being used to help students learn Mandarin in a more immersive, real-life experience.
Watson might be considered a disappointment to some investors, but its potential in the field of AI is still quite significant. I wouldn’t overlook it.
Stitch Fix (SFIX)
They say imitation is the highest form of flattery.
If that’s the case, the fact that Amazon, the world’s most successful e-commerce company, has created Personal Shopper by Prime Wardrobe, a personal shopping service for Prime members willing to pay $4.99 a month to receive a curated group of products based on their profile.
Launched in late July, Personal Shopper is Amazon’s attempt to match Stitch Fix (NASDAQ:SFIX), the San Francisco-based company that’s using AI and machine learning to deliver a first-rate online shopping experience.
While Amazon wants to sell you everything you have in your household, Stitch Fix wants to save busy women and men time and money by providing them with clothing that fits their personality and style.
Stitch Fix is on track to generate $1.6 billion in annual revenue.
My InvestorPlace colleague Dana Blankenhorn said the following about Stitch Fix in June:
“At the company’s present run rate of about $1.6 billion in fiscal 2019 revenue, the $2.3 billion market cap gives it a price-to-sales ratio of just 1.5. That’s high for a retailer but very low for a technology company.”
The reality is that Stitch Fix is using AI like no one else in retail. The fact that Amazon is trying to emulate its business says all you need to know about SFIX stock. It’s a buy.
Aptiv (NYSE:APTV) is a global technology company that provides automotive components to all 25 of the largest automotive original equipment manufacturers in the world from 126 manufacturing facilities in 44 countries.
In the world of AI, Aptiv is using machine learning to perfect the sensors required to operate an autonomous vehicle. However, it’s also using sensors in regular vehicles as a way to better understand how drivers are getting distracted so that the vehicles become safer to drive.
The company’s active safety unit is expected to double its sales by 2022 to $2 billion. Aptiv first started investing in automotive safety technology 20 years ago when there wasn’t a lot of business available. Today, Aptiv’s active safety revenues are growing by more than 60% a year.
In addition to active safety, Aptiv is focusing on two other major trends in the automotive industry: electrification and vehicle connectivity. By utilizing AI and machine learning in all three segments of its business, the future appears to be bright.
Yext (NASDAQ:YEXT) is a leader in digital knowledge management (DKM).
What is DKM?
It is a relatively new category of search that’s all about companies controlling their public-facing facts about themselves. Yext’s cloud-based platform allows companies of all sizes to control the facts about their brand, improving the customer experience by ensuring customers get the right facts about the brand.
Since 2015, Yext’s experienced quarterly growth of 38%. Customers include Volvo, Allstate (NYSE:ALL), Dairy Queen, and many more. The company’s gross margins are currently 75%. It’s comfortable with gross margins in the mid-70s.
In the company’s first quarter, it grew revenues by 35% to $68.7 million with a 76.0% gross margin, 110 basis points higher than in the same quarter a year earlier.
However, it doesn’t currently make money. In the first quarter, its non-GAAP loss was $5.7 million, 37% lower than a year earlier. It has no long-term debt and $284.1 million in cash and marketable securities.
It expects revenues in fiscal 2020 of at least $297 million with a non-GAAP loss of $0.42.
Yext takes intelligent search to the next level. I wouldn’t bet the farm on this AI stock, but if you can afford to use a little play money, I could see this turning out to be a winning bet.
On Aug. 19, reports surfaced that Bill Stasior, the former head of Siri, left Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) in May after almost a decade to join Microsoft’s AI division. It seems that Microsoft’s AI division is searching for direction; Stasior will be leading up one of its AI groups.
Recently, Microsoft invested $1 billion in OpenAI. The company plans to work with OpenAI to develop AI technologies.
“Microsoft and OpenAI will jointly build new Azure AI supercomputing technologies. OpenAI will port its services to run on Microsoft Azure, which it will use to create new AI technologies and deliver on the promise of artificial general intelligence. Microsoft will become OpenAI’s preferred partner for commercializing new AI technologies,” stated the July 22 blog post from Microsoft.
Given what Satya Nadella has been able to pull off in the cloud, I wouldn’t bet against Microsoft gaining some ground on its peers when it comes to artificial intelligence and machine learning.
As my InvestorPlace colleague recently said, Microsoft is a no-brainer buy.
At the time of this writing Will Ashworth did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.