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Weekly Bot Brief on Robotic Research and Investment Review 6-14-2019

POSTED 06/17/2019

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

Bot Index Highlights:Bot Index vs. S & P 500, 6-14-2019

The market produced mixed results last week as economic statistics provided investors some excitement such as reported strength in industrial production while at the same time  consumer activity troubles appear to be brewing. The news carried the S & P 500 up a bit less than ½ percent yet the Bot Index fell a little over ½ percent. The bots were impacted by the continuing slide by NIO Inc. The company decreased 12.32% on top of the double digit decline of the prior week. The stock was hit by an Investor Place research article entitled, “NIO Stock Could Hit Zero”. If that was not enough to discourage investors, Market Realist published a report, “ China’s Car Sales Aren’t Just Falling, Anymore, They’re Crumbling.”

Also contributing to the robotic industry’s underperformance was the investor disappointment with United Technologies and Raytheon’s announced merger. Clearly, based upon the 5.18% decline in UTX shares and the fall of Raytheon from $185.91 to $177.35 during the week, researchers could not find the synergies to justify the ‘merger of equals’.

Several international companies noted reasonably good results for their investors. Cyberdyne’s gain of 8.4% was a recovery from the 6/7/19 week ending’s 3.29% drop. Likewise, Hiwin Technologies rose 4.74% after having been one of the prior week’s worst performers within the Bot Index. Keyence Corp. rose 1.28% and Qiagen N.V. gained 1.54%. On the domestic front Amazon rose 3.64% despite growing concerns about antitrust political rhetoric and Accuray Inc. improved by 3.06%.

News From the Sunshine State:

One of the economic areas that has long adopted the utilization of robotic production technologies has been agriculture. In an The New Yorker article headline, “The Age of Robot Farmers”, the author cited the cost and scarcity of seasonal strawberry pickers at a farm in Plant City, Florida. The farm manager has been developing automation to offset the human labor component of the harvesting process. With twenty million berries that are picked each season, the use of human labor has traditionally been required due to the fragile nature of berries. Other farm crops that are much  hardier, have long utilized mechanical means of their planting and harvesting. Berries, however, with their variable maturation and delicate nature, present a more difficult automation problem. The article indicated that a new Florida startup - Berry 5.1 has been tackling the opportunity as have organizations such as Dogtooth (a UK corporation), Agrobot from Spain, Utsunomiya University, and Octinion in Belgium.

In other news last week, the Governor of Florida,  Ron DeSantis signed a new bill which would permit testing of autonomous driving vehicles. On July 1, 2019 self-driving cars completely without humans will be allowed on all roads if meeting certain insurance and safety requirements. A pioneer in the use of delivery trucks, Starsky Robotics expects the law will prompt it to deploy of fleet of 25 trucks by the end of 2020. The Florida law is an important step in the acceptance of self-driving vehicles without some of the prohibitive regulatory concerns issued by other states.

Member: American Economic Association, Society of Professional Journalists, United States Press Association. Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts, Robotic Industries Association.

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