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The Bot Brief

POSTED 09/04/2023

"There is no force on earth more powerful than an idea whose time has come."         

- Victor Hugo


Bots in The News:Bot Index vs. S & P 500

Mixed news from this week’s employment report and assessments of consumer spending produced a little traction in the stock market. The S & P 500 gained 2.50% while the Bot Index rose 2.30%. The jobs report had some good and bad features with unemployment rising a bit while wages outgrew inflation. Consumer spending continued strongly albeit fueled by tapping savings deposits. Fortunately, spending on luxury goods, concerts and technology were highlights in consumer favor.

The bots’ performance was a function of moderate but extensive positive movement across the board. The tails held few participants with only three gainers above 5% and only three losers outside of the relatively weak Japanese components.

The best performance was made by Oceaneering International, who was also the only double-digit gainer with its 12% upturn. The company’s strength was a result of the move to $85 by WTI crude oil and its inking of two international contracts worth $100 million.

Apple and NVIDIA Corp. rounded out the outlier performers for the week. Apple enjoyed acceptance of price increases of its iPhone 15 and as Barron’s Magazine noted, “Apple shares are rising for their fifth consecutive trading day, putting the tech giant on track for its longest winning streak since July 8, 2022, when it also gained for five days in a row.” The stock closed up 6%.

NVIDIA Corp. continued to find investor favor following the prior week’s stunning earnings report. The stock rose another 5.41%.

Outside of the Japanese companies in the Bot Index, the only domestic loser was recorded by Faro’s 3.65% slide. There was no real news which would account for the drop nor any deviation from normal trading patterns.

2020's Decade of Bot Index Performance

Nodules Again:

Several Bot Briefs of the past have discussed the success of using robotics in undersea operations. The exploratory and extraction of manganese nodules by the Japanese Agency for Marine Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) within the Japanese Economic Enterprise Zones (EEZ) was a bellwether in unmanned harvesting of the ocean’s mineral bounty. Lately, however, due to the overwhelming need of certain metals for batteries, other ventures are starting to view these nodules as a practical alternative to earth mining. Currently, Indonesia produces half of the world consumption of nickel which is essential for today’s cathode charged EV batteries. Consequently, Indonesia has been on a mining joy-ride, devastating its rainforests and impacting the environment while providing for economic expansion.

Recently, however, two international firms are vying to have their robots harvest the manganese, cobalt, nickel and copper rich nodules in the Pacific’s Clarion Clipperton Zone southeast of Hawaii. It is estimated that the zone may contain 340 tons of nickel alone. While this figure is three times the estimate of the world’s land-based reserves, it is also notable that the nodules have much higher concentrations of the metal than land-based deposits. This translates to higher profitability and lower processing environmental costs.







Member: American Economic Association, Society of Professional Journalists, United States Press Association. Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts, Robotic Industries Association (now A3 Automation), Member IEEE.


The Bot Brief is a weekly newsletter designed for economists, investment specialists, journalists, and academicians. It receives no remuneration from any companies that may from time to time be featured in the brief and its commentaries, analysis, opinions, and research represent the subjective view of Balcones Investment Research, LLC. Due to the complex and rapidly changing nature of the subject matter, the company makes no assurances as to the absolute accuracy of the material presented.