Fanuc: A Wallflower at the Robotics Orgy?

Fanuc Corp. (TSE:8278) (OTCPK:FANUY) just doesn’t fire the imagination like the robotics companies pumping out weekly press releases about their latest highest-tech applications do. That’s a shame.

What are too many robotics-are-cool, great-story, neat-concept investors looking for in a robotics company? Sexy! Young! Beautiful people (OK, robots)! The future!

What might be the considerably more interesting story, if only we are willing to learn more about it?

Fanuc (an acronym for Fuji Automatic Numerical Controls – Fujitsu spun Fanuc off decades ago) is not in the artificial intelligence business. No clever Watson thumping humans at “Jeopardy” here. And at an ETF I like for the broadest exposure to the field of robotics, Robo-Stox Global Robotics and Automation (ROBO), Fanuc is only the 11th-largest holding, well below UAV maker AeroVironment (AVAV) and Roomba vacuum cleaner marketer iRobot (IRBT).

(Of course, that’s what Morningstar said as of July 31. If you go to xtf.com it says it is the No. 2 holding as of July 31. If you went to a third site, you’d see something else. Robo-Stox doesn’t report daily, so who knows? There’s an object lesson here: just because the “data” is readily available on your favorite research sites don’t expect the “data” to be correct at any given time!)

Whether Fanuc is second or 11th or somewhere in between, I’d buy Robo-Stox first for its overall exposure.

But if you want a steady if boring market leader, you might want to conduct your due diligence on Fanuc next. Fanuc makes the mostly programmable machines that do the heavy lifting in industrial and manufacturing processes. No sexy robotic surgery here. Just the most profitable machines with the steadiest revenue stream.

Fanuc is the Big Dog in industrial robots. The company holds the most patents in the “Robotics” category of any company in the world. With offices in 46 countries, it is a constituent of both the Nikkei 225 and the TOPIX 100. In…

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