Without question, many companies, particularly in the manufacturing sector, are intensively utilizing robotics. And they are doing it much more so than they did 10 or 15 years ago. That makes robotics stocks increasingly enticing. In the electric vehicle (EV) sector alone, two prominent companies — Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) and Arrival (NASDAQ:ARVL) — rely greatly on robots to assemble their EVs.
Meanwhile, many processes, including driving vehicles, are becoming automated. And a high percentage of the machines that perform these tasks are technically robots. With the use of robots becoming more widespread, now is a good time to buy the best robotics stocks.
Before going further, it’s important to define the term “robot.” One definition offered by a website that interviewed experts on robotics reads: “A robot is an autonomous machine capable of sensing its environment, carrying out computations to make decisions, and performing actions in the real world.”
By using this definition, I’m giving investors the opportunity to learn about and take positions in many firms that are benefiting from the automation revolution. Of course, robots are a major component of that revolution.
Best Robotics Stocks: Fanuc (FANUY)
Fanuc (OTCMKTS:FANUY) is one of the purest plays on industrial robots out there, as it’s “one of the largest makers of industrial robots worldwide,” according to Thomas. Moreover, the publication calls the company’s robots are “highly reliable” and provide “sophisticated controllers, intelligence, and networking capabilities.” The latter attributes make them suitable “for a huge range of applications,” the website added.
Among the common, labor-intensive processes automated by the company’s robots are painting, welding, picking/packaging, material handling and, of course, assembly.
Encouragingly, the company’s revenue jumped to 733 billion Japanese yen in fiscal 2021, up from 551 billion yen a year earlier and 635.6 billion yen in FY19. Similarly, its operating income in FY22 came in at 183.24 billion yen, up from 163.3 billion yen in FY19. Clearly, Fanuc is benefiting a great deal from the increased use of robotics.
The forward price-earnings (P/E) ratio of FANUY stock is 25. That’s reasonable, given the company’s strong growth in recent years and its leadership in the rapidly expanding industrial robotics sector.
Aurora Innovation (AUR)
Aurora Innovation (NASDAQ:AUR) provides hardware that enables trucks to drive themselves. In other words, Aurora has created an “autonomous machine capable of sensing its environment, carrying out computations to make decisions, and performing actions in the real world.”
Potentially giving Aurora a big advantage over many or all of its competitors, the company recently reported that its system is now able “to detect system issues and respond by safely pulling over to the side of the road without any human involvement.”
Considering that “at least” seven autonomous cars operated by General Motors (NYSE:GM) subsidiary Cruise recently came together and blocked an intersection in San Francisco, Aurora’s new feature should be a big competitive advantage. Moreover, Cruise is one of the most advanced autonomous-vehicle companies in the world. Plus, another top player in the sector had a similar incident in October.
Finally, on the technical front, Aurora’s product can be transferred among trucks. That makes its system very convenient for its customers and gives Aurora another big advantage.
Best Robotics Stocks: Elbit Systems (ESLT)
As I noted in a previous column, “Elbit’s unmanned aircraft system (UAS), Hermes 900, performs surveillance and reconnaissance missions, can fire missiles, and is able to perform two simultaneous missions autonomously.” As a result, Hermes is definitely a robot, based on the criteria that I presented in the introduction.. And as I noted previously, “Hermes 900 prevents anyone from getting killed during search-and-rescue missions and enables such missions to be conducted in extremely dangerous conditions.”
The very strong demand for and use of drones by both sides in the Russia-Ukraine War strongly indicates that the devices are going to play a huge role in warfare going forward. Couple that dynamic with much higher demand for armaments amid geopolitical tensions, and Elbit should perform very well financially.
Indeed, in the first quarter, Elbit’s top line came in at $1.35 billion, up from $1.12 billion during the same period a year earlier. Elbit noted that, “A major part of the growth was organic.” The company’s bottom line was weighed down by stock-based compensation in Q1. But analysts, on average, expect the company’s earnings per share (EPS) to come in at $7.65. That’s up from $7.20 last year. And in 2023, the mean EPS estimate is $8.70.
Long-term investors should consider a laser system that Elbit has developed with the Israeli government and another defense company. The entities have reportedly made a “breakthrough” in the development of the system, which allows missiles to be blocked much more cheaply than competing technologies. It also has “the ability to effectively intercept long-range threats at high altitudes regardless of weather conditions, and the ability to defend vast areas,” The Jerusalem Post reported in May.
Seiko Epson (SEKEY)
Seiko Epson’s (OTCMKTS:SEKEY) subsidiary, Epson, creates robots used in factories. According to Thomas, “Epson has been a top manufacturer of industrial robots for over 35 years and is the #1 SCARA robot manufacturer in the world.” SCARA robots are “commonly used for pick-and-place or assembly operations where high speed and high accuracy is required,” and they usually “can operate at higher speed” than other robots.
According to Epson, it is the top maker of SCARA robots in the world, offering over 300 varieties of such machines.
In the company’s fiscal 2022, which ended in March, Seiko’s operating income jumped to $756.2 million, up from $557 million in FY21 and $623.9 million in FY19.
The shares have a trailing P/E ratio of just 6.8 and offer a 3.5% dividend yield.
Best Robotics Stocks: Northrop Grumman Corporation (NOC)
Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC) is a leader in defense and aerospace robotics. Earlier this year, Northrop announced that its “Mission Robotic Vehicle (MRV) spacecraft” will be launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX in 2024.
Northrop’s MRV will install the company’s Mission Extension Pod (MEP) on a satellite owned by an Australian company called Optus. “The launch will mark the first time a robotic-capable spacecraft will ascend into space to provide persistent robotic servicing capabilities in geostationary orbit,” the company stated. In light of the huge number of satellites in space, Northrop’s MRV and MEPs could become a significant needle-mover.
Northrop’s Q4 Global Hawks, drones that gather intelligence, are heavily involved in the Russia-Ukraine War and are likely to be acquired by various nations in light of current geopolitical tensions.
ServiceNow (NASDAQ:NOW) enables companies to automate their workflows. Its products can be used to provide customer service and enhance workers’ productivity. In other words, ServiceNow systems, just like most robots, perform tasks or portions of tasks traditionally done by humans.
And, unsurprisingly, in this era of very tight labor markets, ServiceNow is doing very well. In Q2, the company’s top line jumped 24%% YOY to $1.75 billion, coming in $60 million ahead of analysts’ average estimate. And it had more than 100 customers paying annual totals of $10 million or more to it as of Q2. That total surged 50% YOY in Q2. On the profitability front, its net cash provided by operating activities jumped 25% YOY to $433 million.
Analysts, on average, predict that the company’s EPS will jump to $7.30 this year versus $5.92 in 2021.
Best Robotics Stocks: ABB Robotics (ABB)
ABB Robotics (NYSE:ABB) “is one of the leading robotics and machine automation suppliers for 53 countries, providing an impressive catalog of industrial robot solutions and other automation tools.”
As I noted in a previous column, ABB “has installed more than 400,000 robots. It offers robots that perform many types of tasks for industrial companies, including glazing, gluing, painting, welding, and loading.”
Moreover, the company’s robots are increasingly being used in the lucrative healthcare sector, helping in the fight against Covid-29, performing “medical services” and even helping out in labs.
In Q2, ABB’s orders jumped 20%, excluding “the effect of currencies and business changes.” Its operating earnings before interest, taxes, debt and amortization (EBITDA) climbed 2.1% YOY, despite the effects of closures in China, and its EBITDA margin increased to 15.5% from 15% during the same period a year earlier.
Finally, the company predicted “double-digit [percentage] comparable revenue growth in Q3.”
On the date of publication, Larry Ramer held a LONG position in ESLT stock and AUR stock. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.