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Saturday, May 01, 2010

Investing in Robot Stocks

In 2003 Rodney Brooks, co-founder of iRobot, gave a TED-talk predicting "robots will invade our lives". In 2007 Bill Gates predicted in Scientific America the robotics industry as the "next PC industry". Roboticists in Japan, South Korea, USA and Europe predict that robots will enter our homes and do everything from vacuum cleaning, dish washing, cooking, monitoring children and elderly in the near future. A multi billion growth industry is expected to develop in the next couple of years, but no one can say with any certainty when this will happen. So far, the number of robotics companies traded at the stock market are few and dominated by industrial robotics , only a few are related to service or consumer robotics.

Investing in robotics stocks has been a disappointment so far as shown in the stock graph below. In the last five years leading consumer robotics company iRobot (IRBT) has lost 45 percent of its stock value. Even industrial robotics companies such as Japanese Fanuc (6506), German KUKA (KU2) or US Adept (ADEP) have lost value caused by financial crisis and recession starting in 2007-08.
Source: Google Finance
But one robotic stock that did very well during the recession is Intutitive Surgical the global technology leader in robotic-assisted minimally invasive surgery (MIS). The Company's da Vinci® Surgical System offers surgeons superior visualization, enhanced dexterity, greater precision and ergonomic comfort for the optimal performance of MIS. In June 2003 the share was trading at $6.02, now it is trading around $ 360.
Source: Google Finance

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