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Weekly Bot Brief Newsletter on Robotics 8/7/2020

POSTED 08/09/2020

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

Bots in The News:

It was a strong week for the robotic stocks as they rose 3.20%. That number bested the broad market as represented by the 2.45% increase in the S & P 500. Virtually all the major movers within the Bot Index were because of second quarter earnings reports which were prevalent during the week. The best performer, Immersion Corp., gained 17.48% despite reporting a $3 million decline in revenues. The good news, however, was that operating expenses declined 63% year-over-year, allowing for a net loss of 3 cents per share versus last year’s 27 cent loss. The company also announced that it had purchased and retired $30 million in shares.

The second-best gainer in the Bot Index composite was wracked up by the low-priced radiation oncology company – Accuray Inc. The stock surged 17% in anticipation of reporting a 200% gain in quarterly earnings when management releases its report on Thursday.

The only other double-digit increase was from NIO Corp., the Chinese electric car company. The stock surged after it noted 3,533 car deliveries in July, a 322% increase over 2019 July figures. The compelling numbers prompted InvestorPlace to announce, “There is no doubt that the stock is an exciting growth play that should be included in every portfolio.”

Both Textron and Raytheon Technologies each reported favorable quarterly finances which spurred their shares up 7.56% and 8.03% respectively.

Several of the Japanese stocks performed poorly and were led by the 5.38% decline experienced by Keyence Corp. Also down were shares of 3D Systems who fell 5.77% following a loss of $.13 versus an expected decline of only $.10.

Who Are You Ethan Hunt?

If you are a believer in fake news, conspiracy theories, identity theft and internet scam artists, your life just became a little more stressful. A pair of articles from Wired and AI Daily this week exposed the expanding capabilities of Deepfakes. You may recall the movie exploits of Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) as he led his Mission Impossible crew involved in a series of world saving episodes. One of the most notable tools that the IM Crew used was a device that created silicon masks that were so real as to confuse the viewers as to who was really who. According to the article, the most easily achievable and hardest crime to prevent would be the AI application of video and audio impersonations. The ability to create absolutely perfect renditions of actual individuals or events is now readily available. In our social media obsessed society, the ability to manipulate what appears to be persons of familiarity, can have detrimental consequences. Imagine if a video of an AI ‘created’ political leader was to declare war, confess to a crime or impose that he was going to raise taxes by 100% on a major social media site, the implications to the stock market or people’s lives could be immense. This recalls the panic that ensued when Orson Wells read The War of the Worlds. As so many scientists have warned, the AI Pandora’s Box has both the ability to enhance mankind but comes with an equal opportunity to create mischief.

Member: American Economic Association, Society of Professional Journalists, United States Press Association. Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts, Robotic Industries Association, 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 and its commentaries, analysis, opinions, and research represent the subjective views 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 material presented.