It’s not often a so-called financial writer so blatantly misreads a key tenet of the technology business.
But that’s just what I saw in a piece I came across a couple of weeks ago.
Offering his take on Tesla’s announcement that its new Model S sedans would feature some “self-driving” technology, the columnist bemoaned the vehicle’s high price. He worried that “America’s wealth gap will spread to the highways,” leaving regular folks behind.[ad#Google Adsense 336×280-IA]However, this is how consumer technology always works – in the short term.
The wealthy are early adopters – they act as guinea pigs, essentially – giving tech companies the capital and time to perfect their technology and make it affordable.
So, instead of bashing the rich, today I’m taking a different route.
I’m going to show you what I think is the best way to profit from the $15 billion self-driving tech sector.
That piece of the greater automotive tech industry is on track to more than double by the end of this decade – and I think this stock could double a lot sooner than that.
But first, I’m going to show you why right now – before this “rich folks’ market” hits the mainstream – is the best time to invest…
Watch the Early Adopters
I’ve spent some time as an ink-stained journalist – and won a few awards while doing so – and so I’m quite familiar with the saying “never let the facts get in the way of a good story.” And, apparently, so is that Yahoo! Finance writer.
The author of the story, Rick Newman, calls self-driving technology “the next big plaything for the rich” – and then adds that “an automotive revolution may be at hand, but a people’s revolution it is not.”
From where I stand, Newman is dead wrong about the likelihood of autonomous vehicles eventually reaching everyday consumers. However, he is right about self-driving technology being mostly for the well-off right now.
And that’s a good thing.
In my world, the world of Silicon Valley, we need early adopters. They are willing to pay top dollar to get the latest tech advances before they go mainstream.
These early adopters pave the way for mass markets by establishing the economies of scale needed to drive down prices so average consumers can afford to buy.
Just look in your living room. In August 1998, The New York Times decried what it called “sticker shock” for high-definition televisions, noting the “least expensive ones will cost $8,000.”
Today, thanks to early adopters, you can find HDTVs that are 50% larger, twice as sharp, use one-quarter the electricity, are 70% thinner and cost up to 90% less.
Similar stories can be told about home computers, cell phones, digital cameras – even the car itself.
The same thing is happening in the self-driving technology today…
Look, Ma – No Hands
We’re on the verge of mass adoption of what’s known as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).
Simply stated, with these platforms cars can accelerate, steer, and brake themselves.
Before we go any further, however, I should note that the new Tesla Model S won’t be a truly driverless car.
The new Model S’s capabilities will be limited to some highway safety and self-parking features. Moreover, the automated systems Tesla and other automakers have in the works for the next few years will be limited to making vehicles safer and more efficient on highways
Because of safety concerns, regulatory hurdles, and not-quite-ready technology, I don’t think we’ll see true hands-free driving on U.S. roads until at least 2025.
Meanwhile, thanks to ADAS tech, look for collision avoidance, “lane keeping” and self-braking systems to be added to our luxury autos in the near term. And I think the federal government will mandate at least some of these safety systems to be included in all new cars in the next half-decade or so.
Just look at what’s happening with backup cameras.
By July 2018, every new car and light-duty truck sold in the United States must be equipped with backup cameras. This will give carmakers a great opportunity to sell connected car tech – such as Wi-Fi-connected infotainment units and in-dash GPS navigation systems – and ADAS tech to the mass market.
Transparency Market Research recently estimated just the ADAS market at $14.8 billion with 2013 as the base year. As the technology migrates from Lexuses to Scions, the sector will soar by more than 19% annually through the end of the decade, when it will hit $50.4 billion.
That means ADAS and autonomous vehicles meet the mandate of Rule No. 3 of my five-part system for building wealth through tech investments – “Ride the unstoppable trends.”
I’ve already told you folks about how “backup-camera envy” is driving the auto and tech sectors forward.
And once people start seeing it in action, I’m sure we’ll also be talking about “self-parking envy.”
That’s why I’m bringing Mobileye NV (NYSE: MBLY) to you today. This Jerusalem-based firm is a leader in “computer vision” technology that helps cars detect and then avoid other vehicles, pedestrians, and roadway markings.
Mobileye makes a chip and ADAS systems that make collision-avoidance technology possible. The company’s technology applies algorithms to video images taken from connected cameras.
Mobileye’s technology can deliver “lane keeping” – automated steering that keeps a car in the center of its lane and allows for short periods of hands-free driving. It also has lane-departure modules that warn drivers of encroaching vehicles.
The firm’s Automatic Emergency Braking System detects imminent collisions. It can warn the driver or, as a last resort, trigger self-braking to prevent collisions.
And whether or not regulators will allow it, Mobileye claims its technology will allow hands-free highway driving by next year.
No wonder so many major carmakers are anxious to do business with the firm. It’s working with at least 15 global leaders, including Audi AG, Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F), General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM), Tesla and Volvo AB.
Founded 15 years ago, Mobileye went public in July 2014. Its initial public offering (IPO) was highly successful, jumping some 48% on a day when the markets were slumping.
Now trading around $42.50 a share, Mobileye has a $9.20 billion market cap – and it’s a growth machine. Over the past three years, sales have increased an average 107% annually, meaning they’re doubling every eight months.
Let be conservative and project stock appreciation at only one-fourth that rate.
That would give us a double in just 33 months.
However, as much I love Mobileye and its technology, I am concerned about the stock’s volatility – it’s now 42% off its peak, though still 15% up from its IPO price.
I think this is a great stock to own over the long haul, but Mobileye could take investors on a roller-coaster ride over the next several quarters. This is something you see a lot with recently issued stocks.
You could use one of two strategies to tap into this tech winner’s enormous growth.
You can put Mobileye in your retirement portfolio and simply not worry about the volatility. In that case, by definition, you’d have a long horizon.
Or, short-term investors could use my “Cowboy Split” system. You can buy half of your intended position now at market. Then put in a lowball limit order to buy another half at a 20% discount.
That way you turn the volatility to your advantage, boost your long-term gains and get on the road to wealth.
If you ask me, becoming rich is a whole lot better than bashing the wealthy.
— Michael A. Robinson[ad#IPM-article]
Source: Money Morning