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The Robots Are Coming—to Collaborate With You

Doosan Robotics’ blockbuster IPO—the biggest in Korea this year—shows that the robot stock craze has well and truly arrived

By JACKY WONG
Fri, Oct 6, 2023 9:56amGrey Clock 2 min

Our future looks increasingly robotic—whether we like it or not. But the investment craze in robotics stocks may already be getting ahead of itself.

The latest example: South Korea’s Doosan Robotics, whose shares nearly doubled in value on their first day of trading Thursday. The company, which is part of the conglomerate Doosan Group, raised around $300 million from an initial public offering, making it Korea’s biggest IPO this year so far.

Doosan makes collaborative robots, or cobots, designed to work together with humans on factory floors. Such robotic helpers are most suitable for smaller companies that may not be ready to automate their whole production line but use cobots to automate processes better done by machines. Apart from its heavy-duty industrial robots, Doosan also makes variants that can serve coffee—and beer.

Doosan isn’t the only robotics company looking frothy of late. Shares of its smaller peer Rainbow Robotics, which is backed by Samsung Electronics, have more than quadrupled this year. Samsung raised its stake in Rainbow to 15% in March.

To be fair, there are plenty of good reasons to be optimistic about industrial robots. Poor demographics and poisonous immigration politics in most advanced economies will mean weak labor-force growth in the future. Robots rarely go on strike. And in the U.S., the enormous surge in manufacturing investment—courtesy of the Inflation Reduction Act and other industrial policy bills—means demand for manufacturing workers could remain strong for quite a while. Reshoring to advanced economies is another tailwind for robotics.

In 2022, almost 60% of Doosan’s sales came from North America and Europe. Though cobots are still a small part of the overall robot market—accounting for 7.5% of industrial robots installed in 2021, according to the International Federation of Robotics—shipments have been growing faster than the market as a whole. Installations for all industrial robots grew 5% year on year to a record high in 2022.

The company is the seventh-largest maker of cobots globally, according to its prospectus. But since the top two companies, Denmark’s Universal Robots and Japan’s Fanuc, dominate the sector with nearly half of the market, Doosan’s market share amounted to only 3.6%.

Doosan has been growing fast: Its sales more than doubled to around 45 billion won, the equivalent of $33 million, in 2022 from 2020. But it isn’t cheap. With a market capitalisation of around $2.5 billion, Doosan now trades at 74 times last year’s revenue. Fanuc trades at just 4.7 times revenue. Doosan is also unprofitable, though its chief executive expects it to move into the black next year.

The robot craze, like the artificial-intelligence craze, is grounded in real technological trends—and demographic ones too. But like human workers, not all robot firms are created equal. Jumping aboard the robot stock bandwagon at any price might not serve investors over the long run.



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These stocks are getting hit for a reason. Instead, focus on stocks that show ‘relative strength.’ Here’s how.

By KEN SHREVE
Wed, Jun 12, 2024 4 min

A lot of investors get stock-picking wrong before they even get started: Instead of targeting the top-performing stocks in the market, they focus on the laggards—widely known companies that look as if they are on sale after a period of stock-price weakness.

But these weak performers usually are going down for good reasons, such as for deteriorating sales and earnings, market-share losses or mutual-fund managers who are unwinding positions.

Decades of Investor’s Business Daily research shows these aren’t the stocks that tend to become stock-market leaders. The stocks that reward investors with handsome gains for months or years are more often  already  the strongest price performers, usually because of outstanding earnings and sales growth and increasing fund ownership.

Of course, many investors already chase performance and pour money into winning stocks. So how can a discerning investor find the winning stocks that have more room to run?

Enter “relative strength”—the notion that strength begets more strength. Relative strength measures stocks’ recent performance relative to the overall market. Investing in stocks with high relative strength means going with the winners, rather than picking stocks in hopes of a rebound. Why bet on a last-place team when you can wager on the leader?

One of the easiest ways to identify the strongest price performers is with IBD’s Relative Strength Rating. Ranked on a scale of 1-99, a stock with an RS rating of 99 has outperformed 99% of all stocks based on 12-month price performance.

How to use the metric

To capitalise on relative strength, an investor’s search should be focused on stocks with RS ratings of at least 80.

But beware: While the goal is to buy stocks that are performing better than the overall market, stocks with the highest RS ratings aren’t  always  the best to buy. No doubt, some stocks extend rallies for years. But others will be too far into their price run-up and ready to start a longer-term price decline.

Thus, there is a limit to chasing performance. To avoid this pitfall, investors should focus on stocks that have strong relative strength but have seen a moderate price decline and are just coming out of weeks or months of trading within a limited range. This range will vary by stock, but IBD research shows that most good trading patterns can show declines of up to one-third.

Here, a relative strength line on a chart may be helpful for confirming an RS rating’s buy signal. Offered on some stock-charting tools, including IBD’s, the line is a way to visualise relative strength by comparing a stock’s price performance relative to the movement of the S&P 500 or other benchmark.

When the line is sloping upward, it means the stock is outperforming the benchmark. When it is sloping downward, the stock is lagging behind the benchmark. One reason the RS line is helpful is that the line can rise even when a stock price is falling, meaning its value is falling at a slower pace than the benchmark.

A case study

The value of relative strength could be seen in Google parent Alphabet in January 2020, when its RS rating was 89 before it started a 10-month run when the stock rose 64%. Meta Platforms ’ RS rating was 96 before the Facebook parent hit new highs in March 2023 and ran up 65% in four months. Abercrombie & Fitch , one of 2023’s best-performing stocks, had a 94 rating before it soared 342% in nine months starting in June 2023.

Those stocks weren’t flukes. In a study of the biggest stock-market winners from the early 1950s through 2008, the average RS rating of the best performers before they began their major price runs was 87.

To see relative strength in action, consider Nvidia . The chip stock was an established leader, having shot up 365% from its October 2022 low to its high of $504.48 in late August 2023.

But then it spent the next four months rangebound—giving up some ground, then gaining some back. Through this period, shares held between $392.30 and the August peak, declining no more than 22% from top to bottom.

On Jan. 8, Nvidia broke out of its trading range to new highs. The previous session, Nvidia’s RS rating was 97. And that week, the stock’s relative strength line hit new highs. The catalyst: Investors cheered the company’s update on its latest advancements in artificial intelligence.

Nvidia then rose 16% on Feb. 22 after the company said earnings for the January-ended quarter soared 486% year over year to $5.16 a share. Revenue more than tripled to $22.1 billion. It also significantly raised its earnings and revenue guidance for the quarter that was to end in April. In all, Nvidia climbed 89% from Jan. 5 to its March 7 close.

And the stock has continued to run up, surging past $1,000 a share in late May after the company exceeded that guidance for the April-ended quarter and delivered record revenue of $26 billion and record net profit of $14.88 billion.

Ken Shreve  is a senior markets writer at Investor’s Business Daily. Follow him on X  @IBD_KShreve  for more stock-market analysis and insights, or contact him at  ken.shreve@investors.com .