Seeing Machines is worth £2bn

I know a few investors thought I was ramping when I wrote in a previous blog post ‘Seeing Machines wins BMW contract worth between US$125m to US$250m‘ that this AIM-listed minnow was worth £2bn (89p a share).

My reasoning is simple: it’s currently the leading specialist supplier in the global automotive market. (Read that slowly and ponder the implications as automotive is one of the hottest tech sectors in the world).

You want proof? Fovio, Seeing Machines’ world leading driver monitoring technology is currently being used by General Motors in its Super Cruise system for semi-autonomous cars, and is set to go into production in Mercedes and BMW cars within the next couple of years. 

Note that even before the BMW win, house broker Canaccord Genuity affirmed Seeing Machines was worth 21p in note dated 9th January. Analyst Caspar Trenchard also indicated that “the Fovio ‘platform’ technology might well be of specific additional worth to a corporate acquiror.”

Increased regulation is driving this adoption and many other car manufacturers and Tier 1s are queuing up to use Seeing Machines over the next year. I fully expect Subaru, VW, Audi and a host of others to follow in due course. (Tesla really ought to be banging on Seeing Machines’ door to get their kit into its cars.)

Lorne Daniel

Lorne Daniel, Head of Research at FinnCap, is a well respected tech analyst who has previously compared Seeing Machines to Mobileye, which was bought by Intel for US$15.3bn. 

I needed a sanity check to ensure I wasn’t deluding myself as to its intrinsic value, so I asked Lorne Daniel a simple question: “Do you think a £2bn valuation on Seeing Machines is unrealistic, given its increasing dominance in the auto OEM market?”

His reply: “Absolutely it’s a realistic valuation. The end markets are enormous and time and again the company is delivering on its promise with very big companies.”

Of course, I can imagine many readers moaning, “But its price is less than 5p!”

Well, as Warren Buffet once famously said: “Price is what you pay, value is what you get.”

Low-ball bid

Given the fact the stock is currently languishing below 5p, my own concern is that there is a distinct possibility an opportunistic bidder may soon seek to take advantage of this valuation anomaly with a low-ball bid.

Should that event materialise, my hope is that the management and quality institutional investors, such as Herald’s Katie Potts and Miton’s Gervais Williams (who’ve been invested here for years and fully realise what it is now worth), would resist any such offer and seek a price that fully reflects its value.

After all, the likes of Apple, Google, Samsung and Tesla — not to mention a host of Tier 1 automotive suppliers (Autoliv, Bosch, Aptiv, Denso and Continental etc)— are likely to be keen to acquire Seeing Machines’ technology. 

Think about it. £2bn is a realistic valuation for Seeing Machines. Moreover, £2bn for some of these companies is money that they can easily afford to spend in order to build market share in the automotive market.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

Seeing Machines delivering on long-term strategy

In an exclusive interview with Seeing Machines interim Chief Executive Ken Kroeger, he has confirmed that the company remains on track to hit its first half financial targets and is making no adjustments to its full year figures.

Following the departure of former chief executive Mike McAuliffe, who had only been in place a few months, private investors have been concerned as to whether there was likely to be any strategic change of direction. Happily, as Ken Kroeger confirmed: “The strategy that we’re executing is exactly the same one that we were executing when he arrived. Moreover, the executive team that is delivering that strategy remains the same.”

It’s a point that was well made by Lorne Daniel, analyst at house broker FinnCap a week ago, when he wrote: “We know that the second tier of management in this business is particularly strong and will continue to follow the strategy and deliver on the milestones as expected.”

The business certainly seems to be making steady progress across fleet, auto and aviation and Kroeger stressed the efforts of the executive team in having built them up. “These are businesses that didn’t even exist a few year ago and Paul Angelatos (Fleet), Nick Di Fiore (automotive) and Pat Nolan (Aviation) have done a great job in creating and building these markets for Seeing Machines.”

Auto industry

Not only is Seeing Machines working with GM to deliver driver monitoring systems for its cars (most notably the Cadillac CT6 whose Supercruise system uses it), but on October 30, 2017 its Fovio Driver Monitoring System was chosen by a premium German OEM (who I believe to be Mercedes).

Kroeger wouldn’t comment on who the German OEM is but did confirm: “It is extensively pushing the boundaries in driver monitoring, taking it to a whole new level. That is underway. That is a real state of the art delivery, very technically challenging but it sets a completely new performance standard for DMS.”

Given recent bulletin board discussions as to the respective merits of Seeing Machines technology vs. SmartEye, Kroeger was happy to explain: “We have the best technology, there is no doubt about that at all. SmartEye has an okay technology, which is cheaper…we’re much better positioned to take the premium car models that are interested in performance, who need this to work because it is a safety critical feature. For models that are being rolled out where it is nice to have comfort features in the car, which only require rudimentary head and eye-tracking, SmartEye is a viable option.

He added: “Right now we definitely have a leadership position from a technical perspective. That is very much respected by the auto OEMs.”

In addition, I’m optimistic that other OEMs will select Seeing Machines DMS technology, doubtless driven by the NCAP requirement for any car model wishing to have a 5 star safety rating from 2020 to have a DMS in place.

In Japan strong market opportunities are being helped by the effort of Kevin Tanaka working out of the West Coast in the US. Also Kroeger confirmed: “There is a very strong alignment with Xilinx in Japan, who are doing a lot of our on the ground marketing for us. It is definitely getting well received by the Japanese.”

Fleet

While a comprehensive Fleet update is due this week that should provide much awaited news on further wins, Kroeger did reveal that the Guardian 2.0 device will start shipping by the end of March. The upgraded system is significantly cheaper to manufacture, smaller and easier to install, which should also help increase penetration rates.

Takeover

Given the much higher profile of Seeing Machines since the launch of the Cadillac CT6 and the most recent CES show, where it was showcased by both Bosch and Autoliv speculation is increasing daily over whether it is being tracked for takeover, whether by a Tier 1, a telematics company, or even Google or Apple.

Asked about this Kroeger coyly replied: “There is always interest. We would never say ‘no’ to a conversation but we also recognise that there will a time when the time is right to return the best value to shareholders. We’re very cautious about the conversations we do have and, if we were to contemplate selling the company, we would have to find somebody who valued the entire organisation to obtain the full value for it.”

When pressed further about Google, Apple or Amazon seeing the long term value in Seeing Machines technology, which has applications far beyond transport alone, given it can enable robots to see and perhaps eventually even empathise with humans, Ken Kroeger commented: “I agree it is either someone like that who can see the full value or a really diverse Tier 2 or Tier 1, as opposed to the OEM. The Tier 1s sell to the OEMs but some of the Tier 2s which sell to the Tier 1s are exceptionally diverse. They might be building stuff for automotive, stuff for aviation and stuff for medical devices, stuff for consumer electronics. They might not just be an automotive-centric supplier. They are really hard to find and pinpoint but they are out there because they are always talking to us.

Of the partners that Seeing Machines currently has some are definite possibles. “Or, it could be someone who sells image processors and wants to start packaging it with software already on it on a smart camera or smart sensor,” teased Kroeger.

Despite being a world leader in DMS tech, a key plank in the forthcoming generation of semi-autonomous cars and increasingly being considered in trains, planes, trams and buses, it’s current share price languishes at approximately 5.5p. This valuation anomaly cannot last much longer, especially as with the recent fundraise it has been largely de-risked as an investment provided sales continues.

Ironically, such a deeply discounted valuation could well be the catalyst for an opportunistic bid from a cash-rich global player before the year end.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

Revenge of the Killer Zombie Government

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Killer ZombieOur ‘Their’ UK Government is clearly incompetent, too ideologically obsessed with cutting regulations and implementing muddle-headed, ’balance the books’ austerity to care for us peeps.

That much we know after Grenfell Tower fire burnt down the last remaining veil hiding the Tories’ duplicity and selfishness. The exact number of dead in that fire is probably well into triple figures – but don’t expect a realistic death toll until the heat of the summer is long past. Tempers might combust and the establishment don’t want their stage-managed democracy torched by the angry masses.

But I digress: up and down the country most people can increasingly smell the stink of this Tory Government’s rotting corpse. With every passing week the stench gets stronger. Even the DUP’s futile attempt to give it the kiss of life won’t revive it.

What is especially shocking is that this Zombie Government cares more for the dead than the living. Theresa’s May’s wet dream would be the death of Corbyn. I imagine she’d happily splurge on a state funeral if it meant her failing grip on the cliff edge of power became a little tighter. She might not be alone in twisting and turning in orgasmic delight at such a fantasy – but Boris doesn’t kiss and tell in public.

How do I justify that statement? Well, first I’d cite the ‘fact’ that I believe it to be true. Okay, that’s too weak – though I think you may believe it also.

Secondly, they’re doing little to prevent pollution from diesel vehicles that is sending many to an early grave and damaging the lungs of children.

Lastly, what else can explain the fact that, while •thousands are injured and many killed in road accidents every year caused by driver fatigue and inattention, ‘our’ Government is doing little to encourage the adoption of technology that could drastically reduce those numbers.

Yes, that’s right. The technology to warn drivers when they’re falling asleep at the wheel or distracted (for example, by using a mobile) exists.

Yet the Government does nothing to encourage its adoption: it doesn’t test it or mandate it on UK roads.

Noblesse ought to oblige the Government to do the decent thing but this mob in power don’t give a fig for the living.

• According to figures from the Department of Transport, in 2015, driver distraction was cited as a factor in 2,920 crashes, which resulted in 61 fatalities and 384 serious injuries. Similarly, driver fatigue was a contributory factor in 1,784 car accidents in 2015, resulting in 58 fatalities and 331 serious injuries.

Seeing a CES bonanza for Fovio

This year’s CES show in Las Vegas has demonstrated strong interest in driver monitoring systems (DMS), from automotive manufacturers and their Tier 1 suppliers. All good news for Seeing Machines’ Fovio division, which is fast becoming the dominant supplier of driver monitoring systems to guard against driver fatigue and distraction.

It was at CES in 2015 that Seeing Machines first showed its driver monitoring car technology with Jaguar. In addition, Seeing Machines has confirmed that Bosch, Takata and Volkswagen are showcasing Fovio tech at this year’s CES.

  • Bosch’s vehicle demonstrates new intelligent driver interaction capabilities enabled by Fovio
  • Volkswagen demonstrates a vehicle cockpit concept with integrated Fovio DMS
  • Takata demonstrates steering-wheel integrated DMS

I think it is only a matter of time before many other OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers are linked with Seeing Machines as the auto industry introduces advanced semi-autonomous vehicles, then fully autonomous vehicles.

As Mike McAuliffe, ceo of Fovio has noted: “We’re seeing a groundswell of demand in the industry for our Driver Monitoring technology.”

Tesla, Jaguar, Land Rover and Porsche are all marques that I personally think are likely to adopt its technology. For instance, Elon Musk would be in ‘ludicrous’ mode if he didn’t appreciate what Seeing Machines DMS could do to enhance safety features in his cars.

Ludicrous valuation

What is undeniably ludicrous is that this stock languishes at a market cap of £45m when it is about to crack not only the auto market with Fovio but the fleet market with its Guardian product. (Caterpillar liked its driver monitoring product for the mining industry so much it bought the whole operation in return for an upfront payment and ongoing license and royalty stream for Seeing Machines).

Seeing Machines now has only to lie back and wait for the money to roll in from the Caterpillar sales team. Similarly, holders of this stock who hold it for a couple more years should make a stellar return.

According to projections from Lorne Daniels, a well respected analyst at house broker FinnCap, Seeing Machines will deliver sales of Aussie Dollars 141m (£84m) in 2019 with pre-tax profits of A$22m (£13m). I expect this figure to be revised sharply upwards along with his target price of 12p by the end of this year.

Any lingering doubts about the take up Seeing Machines offering in the fleet space were certainly dispelled with its tie up with Mix-Telematics, a global telematics provider in late December.

Following its fundraise this month, I’m convinced Seeing Machines is set to rise steadily.

However, don’t take my word for it. Do your own research and then make your own mind up.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines