In most ways, the future looks promising and exciting. I’m not just talking about the opportunities we have to make money, though that’s certainly a big part of it, but more so the innovative advancements that are coming our way. Think self-driving cars, smart homes, newer and better ways to shop and have packages delivered almost instantly, robotics, the Internet-of-Things (IoT), medical advancements and on and on. We are living in very exciting times.
Unfortunately, a couple of things that do not appear likely to change anytime soon are violent conflicts between nations and the scourge of terrorism. The events of this week brought more reminders of this, from the $110 billion dollar arms deal President Trump signed with Saudi Arabia to the despicable bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in England.
We all hope that innovative breakthroughs will help foster the next-gen strategy in fighting terrorism. Instead of boots on the ground, beating terrorists will rely increasingly on high-tech strategies that include drones and other devices that do not put lives in danger.
You can bet this is an area I watch closely, and there are a few potential ways to invest in this theme.
If you want one-stop shopping, there is a drone exchange-traded fund (ETF) to consider – the PureFunds Drone Economy Strategy ETF (IFLY). IFLY has performed well, up 15% in 2017 and nearly 22% over the last 12 months.
The ETF’s focus isn’t just military and defense uses, though they are certainly part of it. IFLY highlights the recreational drone market, which is significant. Drones were one of the most popular gifts last holiday season to the tune of 1.2 million. There were 2.5 million drones sold all of last year, double that of 2015. Beyond this use, there is also the commercial market.
As it says on the ETF’s website, “There have been a number of innovative developments from hardware and software companies ranging from well-funded start-ups to established Fortune 500 firms that together are forming an exciting enterprise ecosystem of drone solutions that address the needs of a substantial list of clients in the agriculture, construction, real estate, energy, media, and government markets.”
I also follow a few NexGen stocks positioned to be leaders when it comes to drones being used for surveillance and in attacks. One of them is Elbit Systems (ESLT), a global defense company based in Israeli that has been around for 50 years but is a leader in drone technology. This company is a good example of Old Wall Street missing out, as Elbit does not get a lot of attention or analyst coverage. That makes it a good opportunity for us to get in ahead of the herd when the time is right. ESLT is up 22% in the past year and is now bumping up against $120, a level that has served as resistance a few times recently. We haven’t bought yet, but I expect us to own this stock at some point in the future.
For a pure drone play, AeroVironment (AVAV) is about as close as you can get, with 90% of its revenue coming from unmanned systems. Just two weeks ago, the company announced it delivered its first Snipe drone to the U.S. government in April. The Snipe is a small surveillance drone – so small it can be worn on a soldier’s clothing and launched from the palm of his or her hand. AVAV has lost money the last three quarters, so I continue to watch the fundamentals closely. The company should start to turnaround soon, with estimates for profits of $0.21 a share this year that grow to nearly $1.50 by 2021. Looking at the chart, AVAV has traded well since its January lows and held support at the 50-day moving average, which is a good sign. As with ESLT, I want to see a few more of our criteria fall into place before we buy it.
I also love to find good opportunities that are a less direct play on a theme, which again is something Wall Street will often miss. In this case, another way to invest in the drone theme is to look at the component makers of the devices. One interesting but very small company is IXYS Corporation (IXYS), which makes chips for drones as well as other areas. It has a market capitalization of $472 million and trades an average of 147,000 shares each day, so you need to be a little careful with it, but it’s exactly the kind of NexGen company I like to discover and follow so I’m ready to move when I get the right opportunity. (Click here to watch my Chart Show video analyzing IXYS.)
There is so much more to the new wave of technology than self-driving cars and the next round of supercomputers. High-tech defense and antiterrorism efforts are another major theme for us to play in NexGen investing. We all hope ongoing advancements help fight terrorism more effectively and save lives.