7 Robotics & Automation Stocks to Own Before They Transform Industries


  • Zebra Technologies (ZBRA): Zebra sells components that make robotics & automation possible.
  • Samsara (IOT): The Internet of Things provider helps robotics platforms communicate.
  • AeroVironment (AVAV): A major robotics & automation acquisition put AeroVironment at the cutting edge of defense tech.
  • Keep reading for more robotics & automation stocks!

robotics & automation - 7 Robotics & Automation Stocks to Own Before They Transform Industries

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Contrary to the dramatic headlines about robots replacing human workers, a robotics & automation revolution is quietly reshaping multiple industries — changing their entire faces rather than just swapping one form of labor for another.

But there’s a hitch for retail investors: many of the most innovative robotics & automation stocks remain private, limiting public investment opportunities. While ETFs like the iShares Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Multisector ETF (NYSEARCA:IRBO) or even Cathie Wood’s ARK Autonomous Technology & Robotics ETF (BATS:ARKQ) offer a way to invest in this sector indirectly, they may not satisfy all investors’ desires to target some of the top tech directly.

For those who prefer a self-directed, active management approach to robotics & automation stocks, these seven publicly traded robotics & automation stocks represent the best in their class. These companies span the gamut of market capitalizations, offering both the stability of large caps and the growth potential of small caps, alongside a wide range of industries to best diversify your robotics & automation stock holdings.

Zebra Technologies (ZBRA)

A photo of the sign for Zebra Technologies (ZBRA) outside of a building.
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Zebra Technologies (NASDAQ:ZBRA) is upstream of the wider robotics & automation sector by providing downstream developers with essential technology and tools, including sensing and communication technologies. The company offers autonomous, customizable base model robots to industries seeking to integrate workplace robotics yet lack ready-made solutions or are otherwise unable to afford internal R&D. Zebra provides customizable robotics platforms that can be tailored to meet specific industry needs—a key aspect of the burgeoning robotics & automation market.

Unlike many companies in the robotics space, Zebra stands out for its profitability and stability, attributes bolstered by its diverse revenue streams spanning printing, scanning, computing, and software technology. This diversification allows Zebra to invest confidently in its growing robotics division without the heightened financial risks typically associated with the sector.

True to form, the company’s most recent quarterly report blew past analyst expectations, marking $1.18 billion in sales (beating expectations by 2.17%) and a $2.84 EPS, compared to analyst consensus estimates of $2.45. Shares surged on the news, but don’t let that dissuade you from investing in this robotics & automation stock for the long haul.

Robotics & Automation Stocks: Samsara (IOT)

a robotic hand reaching out to a human hand against a black background, with the pointer fingers touching. robotics stocks to buy soon
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Like Zebra Technologies, Samsara (NYSE:IOT) is a top player building the infrastructure necessary for robotics & automation systems to function. However, as its ticker symbol suggests, Samsara is deeply involved in the expanding Internet of Things (IoT) sector. The IoT encompasses a network of interconnected physical objects and their communication systems. Samsara’s technology is the invisible backbone integrating industrial robots into a seamless operational network.

Today, Samsara focuses on the big picture, applying its technology on a larger scale and focusing on applications such as fleet vehicle management and safety, movement tracking, and heavy equipment operations. Behind the scenes, these areas are critical to efficient and safe workflows.

While Samsara has not achieved profitability, its prospects remain bright for investors interested in robotics stocks. The company’s latest financial report showed a 39% increase in annual recurring revenue and a 20% improvement in its adjusted free cash flow margin. With management aiming for positive non-GAAP earnings within the year, Samsara represents a promising investment in the foundational technologies that will drive the future of home and industrial robotics.

AeroVironment (AVAV)

The logo for AeroVironment (AVAV) is seen through a magnifying glass on the company's website.
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AeroVironment (NASDAQ:AVAV) is a defense sector stock loved by Cathie Wood of Ark Invest fame. It is increasingly emphasizing integrated robotics & automation within its value chain. The company is primarily known for its forays into drone tech, with its flagship Raven UAS being one of the most widely used small surveillance drones leveraged by the United States and partner nations. But, increasingly, it’s also bringing peripheral robotics & automation tech into the fold, as evidenced by a 2023 acquisition.

Last September, AeroVironment rolled supplier Tomahawk Robotics into its company via strategic acquisition. Tomahawk develops control systems that rely on artificial intelligence, and the acquisition lets AeroVironment “further integrate both companies’ technologies and accelerate [their] implementation of AI and autonomy into AeroVironment’s platforms,” according to Chairman, President, and CEO Wahid Nawabi.

Like other top robotics & automation stocks on the list, AeroVironment recently posted strong quarterly earnings. Highlights include a $0.63 EPS, nearly doubling analyst estimates, on sales of $186.58 million — 10% higher than prior revenue projections.

Robotics & Automation Stocks: Cognex Corp (CGNX)

Cognex (CGNX) logo displayed on smartphone with pink and blue background behind, symbolizing CGNX stock
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Cognex Corp (NASDAQ:CGNX) is another upstream robotics & automation stock, offering investors a wide range of machine vision, guidance, and sensing systems targeting industrial manufacturing processes. The company’s tech helps smooth out automated industrial systems by helping identify parts, pin down defects during assembly, and keep the robotic systems moving and online. Insiders bought Cognex stock hand-over-fist last year, enforcing the stock’s long-term prospects.

The company’s strong financial standing includes a 17% R&D-to-revenue conversion rate and a 72% gross margin rate. Better yet, Cognex is a strong contender among dividend stocks, with a 20-year track record of consecutive payouts and a current 1.6% total yield. Though first-quarter sales slumped slightly, this represents an ideal buying opportunity for long-term robotics & automation investors — shares are down 5% over the past month, but don’t expect the stock to stay suppressed for long.

Intuitive Surgical (ISRG)

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Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG) is a powerhouse among robotics & automation stocks, merging advanced technology, robotics, and the ever-profitable healthcare sector. A top player in both the S&P 500 and NASDAQ-100 indices, Intuitive Surgical reliably supplies specialized, high-end medical equipment that sets it apart from competitors that focus on traditional medical hardware. Better yet, its top tech offerings revolutionize surgical procedures by improving efficiency and patient outcomes.

Intuitive Surgical is aggressively expanding its global presence as the healthcare industry continues rebounding. The company’s most recent quarterly report showcased a notable 16% year-over-year increase in the usage of its flagship robotic surgery system, the da Vinci platform, maintaining a consistent installation rate with 313 units installed this year, compared to 312 in the first quarter of 2023. Coupled with an 11% increase in sales and a rise in net income to $545 million from $355 million, these achievements reinforce Intuitive Surgical’s standing as a premier robotics & automation stock.

Looking ahead, Intuitive Surgical is gearing up to launch its next-generation da Vinci platform. CEO Gary Guthart has indicated that this new model will possess “10,000 times the processing power” of existing models, substantially improving data analysis, sensing technology, and digital functions, ultimately elevating the company’s offerings and market position significantly.

Robotics & Automation Stocks: Symbotic (SYM)

Person holding smartphone with website of US robotics warehouse company Symbotic Inc. on screen with logo. Focus on center of phone display. Unmodified photo. SYM stock
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On the mid-cap front, Symbotic (NASDAQ:SYM) is revolutionizing how prominent retailers, including Walmart (NYSE:WMT) and Target (NYSE:TGT), handle their warehouse operations. Symbotic employs AI to drive its warehouse robotics platforms, enabling quicker, more efficient selection, packing, and shipping than traditional methods while improving safety practices and reducing costs. Although major brands are currently its primary clientele, Symbotic’s strategy to broaden its market reach could propel this robotics & automation stock to new heights.

The company is exploring a new initiative to make warehouse automation and robotics accessible to small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), which typically lack the financial means to invest in the technology that larger corporations can afford. Symbotic’s approach involves targeting multi-user warehouse complexes and integrating automation into the facilities as part of a leasing incentive instead of selling directly to SMBs.

While big-name clients continue to provide a steady revenue stream, the SMB sector represents a vast, largely untapped market for robotics & automation stocks. Successfully tapping into this segment could create a sustainable revenue model for Symbotic, turning it into a diversified, recession-proof robotics & automation stock for years to come.

iRobot (IRBT)

In this photo illustration the iRobot Corporation (IRBT) logo seen displayed on a smartphone screen
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iRobot (NASDAQ:IRBT) is a speculative (but cheap) robotics & automation stock that’s seen tough times yet remains worth buying — though perhaps not for the reasons you expect. While its range of autonomous vacuum cleaners has its merits, the real value in iRobot lies in its extensive portfolio of advanced, patented technology and the potential for third-party licensing. This was a key factor behind Amazon’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) interest in acquiring the company.

Amazon’s bid to acquire iRobot revealed a previously unknown patent Amazon filed, describing “An autonomously motile device [that] may be capable of moving or performing other actions within an environment.” This description hints at a hybrid between an Amazon Alexa and an iRobot vacuum, showcasing the strategic nature of Amazon’s attempt to acquire iRobot for $1.7 billion—aiming to leverage iRobot’s technology rather than develop similar tech in-house. Of course, the acquisition fizzled out, but understanding Amazon’s initial motivation to buy the robotics & automation stock reveals iRobot’s latent potential.

Despite the setback with Amazon’s acquisition, iRobot’s technological assets and patent portfolio remain valuable, with ample opportunities for further acquisitions or licensing deals. Moreover, with iRobot trading at just 0.3x sales, this stock offers compelling value, making it an attractive buy for those looking to invest in the future of at-home robotics.

On the date of publication, Jeremy Flint held no positions in the securities mentioned. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

Jeremy Flint, an MBA graduate and skilled finance writer, excels in content strategy for wealth managers and investment funds. Passionate about simplifying complex market concepts, he focuses on fixed-income investing, alternative investments, economic analysis, and the oil, gas, and utilities sectors. Jeremy’s work can also be found at www.jeremyflint.work.

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