12/10/2013 11:30 PM ET|
The top tech investment of 2014
Sensor technology and the 'Internet of Everything' could be the biggest technological transformation the human race has ever seen. Here are the stocks to play it with.
Devices less than one-tenth the size of a U.S. postage stamp are about to usher in one of the biggest tech-investing booms of all time.
Indeed, without these tiny electronic gadgets, modern life as we know it wouldn't exist. They're essential for the way your car and smartphone operate. They are about to transform energy exploration and transportation. And they are even being used in remarkable new ways to eradicate disease. Some experts believe they could add 30 years to your life span.
We're talking about sensors.
Of course, sensors have been around for decades. The fire alarms in our homes have sensors to detect heat or smoke. Digital cameras use sensors to control features like autofocus. And our cars have several sensors that do everything from control tire pressure to activate airbags in a collision.
But today's sensors have become dramatically more powerful than previous ones, even as they've become infinitely smaller -- some as small as a single micron.
Right now, there's an estimated 50 billion of them in use around the world. But over the next few years, that number will increase by at least fortyfold to two trillion devices. And that's a conservative estimate.
What's driving this sensor revolution?
First, smartphones and tablets are creating huge demand. Gyroscope sensors embedded in smartphones allow you to rotate your phone and have your screen turn with it; they pinpoint location, they compensate for tilts when you walk; they even power light and detect pressure movements from your fingers.
Today, the average smartphone has about 11 sensors it in already and that number is expected to jump to 25 sometime soon.
But this sensor revolution goes far beyond smartphones.
Sensors are also taking the auto industry by storm -- with cars easily carrying a dozen or more. Engineers are using sensors in railroad tracks, bridges, tunnels and highways, all designed to detect crumbling infrastructure. Energy companies are using sensors to detect and uncover new energy supplies.
In fact, Shell and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) have partnered for an ambitious project called CeNSE (the Central Nervous System for the Earth) that hopes to literally cover the planet with sensors that communicate with each other to seamlessly identify sweet spots for oil discoveries.
In short, sensors are rapidly turning Earth into a virtual "smart" planet where ultimately everything -- man, machine, even nature -- is interconnected. The Internet of Everything (IoE), as it is being called, is a global grid that is connecting things as disparate as forklifts and sunglasses through a massive computer network, a Web for inanimate objects.
Many top tech executives believe the Internet Of Everything will be the biggest tech transformation the human race has ever seen both in terms of the technology and the scale of the business opportunity.
In fact, earlier this year Cisco Systems (CSCO) revealed its plans to essentially reorganize their entire company around the IoE. That's how big they think this will be.
Cisco CEO John Chambers said "We're all in. We're making this our cornerstone of our campaign to become the number-one IT company . . . It isn't a billion-dollar commitment. It's way, way beyond that in terms of the resources and time we're going to put behind it."
Chambers believes this new technology will be the key driver of Cisco's growth and its customers' profitability over the next decade -- saying it will push profit opportunities to over $14 trillion. That's $14 trillion in profits, not revenue.
When you consider that the entire U.S. economy is worth about $16 trillion, you start to understand just how big this tech movement is going to be.
Other big players are just as excited about sensor technology, and putting up the money to prove it. IBM (IBM) is spending $1.8 billion a year to secure their market share. HP believes a $10 billion investment will establish their dominance in this field.
But all of the benefits of sensors would be worthless if all the data they collect couldn't be passed along. And for that you need a high-tech "middle man."
And that company is TriQuint Semiconductor (TQNT). This fast-moving small-cap firm has the perfect application for smartphones and tablet computers.
Simply put, the firm specializes in radio-frequency (RF) sensors.
Founded in 1985, TriQuint finds the market moving steadily toward it. That's because mobile components need a wide range of RF products, a market segment with a roughly $8 billion value.
Using radio frequencies is an integral part of the mobile world. That's great for TriQuint because these devices need multiple chips to communicate at specific bandwidths.
The big trends here are the adoption of higher mobile bandwidths and the move to WiFi connections. So, smartphones have to be able to shift seamlessly from a cell tower to a broadband connection.
Not only that, but cellular communications require discrete modules for specific bandwidths. That means phones and tablets must have chips for 2G, 3G and 4G, among others.
At the same time, the company makes a great line of high-quality filters. These are needed to make sure that all these signals coming at mobile products don't interfere with each other.
TriQuint knows how to make advanced devices for demanding applications. Then again, it counts several major defense firms as clients. They use TriQuint devices for satellite communications, electronic warfare and navigation, which lie at the heart of a high-tech military.
With a market cap of $1.27 billion, the stock trades at just over $8 a share. I'd like to see a stronger balance sheet, but the company has a lot of growth potential.
Riding the mobile wave -- and the sensor revolution -- as well as growing broadband demand, gives TriQuint some excellent catalysts for pushing it higher.
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I was lucky enough to get a good amount of shares of Apple Inc. quite a ways back. Now it is responsible for 3/4 th of my gain, with a return on investment currently at 94.78 percent, in my portfolio. I have a few dollars in saving in various accounts. Last year they gave me a dismal return of $ 33.60 on two brokerage accounts & and a Checking account. There us no justice no for saver of money in and bank, brokerage or Credit union. This is not fair and thanks to the FED will never be.
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