Seeing Machines wins strategic FCA contract estimated at US$200m

Seeing Machines has won the contract to supply US carmaker Fiat Chrysler (FCA) with its Fovio chip Driver Monitoring System, as predicted here months ago.

Ostensibly it is a US$6m contract (for Jeep or Ram, I believe) but as we all know the value is likely to end up far higher as DMS is swiftly rolled out across all its various car marques and models.

My estimate for the eventual worth of this deal is nearer to the hundreds of millions of US dollars. FCA produces 4m cars a year. Within 3 years I expect the Fovio chip to be in approximately 50% of them, say 2m cars. At US$20 a pop (volume discount from US$30) that is at least $40m a year. EVERY YEAR from 2022!

As the lifetime of a model is 5 years, my belief is that this strategic contract should end up being worth at least US$200m.

Clearly FCA couldn’t afford to let Ford with its F-150 pick-up outcompete in the premium DMS arena. They just had to have it.

I feel a twinge of sympathy for Smart Eye who at one stage hoped to win FCA. Indeed, as i believe the Tier 1 is Aptiv Seeing Machines are rubbing salt into its wounds — it is the equivalent of your partner running off with your worst enemy.

Unfortunately, Smart Eye don’t have an automotive grade chip, although they are trying to develop one. Unfortunately for them, Seeing Machines has already passed the finishing line where the US premium auto OEMs are concerned. After all it has now bagged FCA, Ford and GM.

In addition the next race has nearly been won in Europe where it will win VW to add to BMW and Mercedes and I don’t expect the result to be any different in Japan (Toyota and Honda are coming I believe).

This latest win brings an eventual bid for Seeing Machines much, much closer. So far as DMS is concerned SEE really is the next Mobileye. Indeed, I imagine the calculations I’ve roughed out will be replicated by many chip companies.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

SEE is worth over £1 a share

Ridiculous as it might sound, when Seeing Machines is currently 4p a share, I believe its intrinsic value is even now well over £1 a share. This is because it will continue to dominate the automotive driver monitoring niche for the next few years at least.

Anyway, here’s my thinking in a nutshell. I’ve based my valuation on auto alone as I think that is the real driver of value with SEE (excuse that pun!).

In his note on January 16th Jean-Marc Bunce, analyst at house broker Cenkos, revealed: “Seeing Machines has a far more conservative approach to announcing automotive revenue visibility that its competitors”.

In the note he pointed out details on the deals already done. I’ve outlined my thoughts on them here:

  • OEM 1 [General Motors] — Supercruise will be rolled out to entire range of Cadillacs (some 350,000 cars by end 2021). Thereafter, I’d expect it to go into most of GMs 10m cars.
  • OEM 2 [Mercedes] — Programme is just for its flagship S Class saloon car, equivalent to 5% of the total cars produced.
  • OEM 3 [BMW] — stated minimum contract value of USS$25m. However, BMW sells 2.3m cars a year and Fovio chip will be rolled out across the entire group.
  • OEM 4 [Ford] — F-150 is a phenomenal earner for Ford and last year Adam Jonas, the famous Morgan Stanley analyst, stated the franchise could be worth more than Ford itself. It has been estimated that Ford will is planning to produce around 1m a year of these in the future. I expect Ford will also roll it out across other car models in due course. Note that Ford produced 6.6m cars in 2017.
  • OEM 5 [Byton] — relatively small volumes but I’d expect them to grow and other premium electric cars to put Fovio into their offerings.

Imminent wins

By the end of this financial year I expect SEE to have announced wins with FCA, Volkswagen and Volvo with Toyota and probably Honda following shortly after.

Alternatively, you can gain a sense of the value of Seeing Machines auto business by looking at the macro picture. Assume 70% of cars have DMS by 2022, and SEE have at least 50% of that market, with estimated global car volumes of around 110m in 2022. If SEE received US$20 a car (blended average of Fovio selling at US$30 a chip and software at US$10) that would deliver revenues of approximately US$770m a year.

If Gen 2 Fovio can maintain pricing at US$30 a car, revenues would be nearer US$1.1bn a year. EVERY YEAR!

Then, were SEE to be sold for a Mobileye-type valuation of 42x revenues it would be worth a minimum of between US$32bn to US$46bn. Note that Mobileye sold for US$15.3bn.

Now discount that back for execution risk, meteor showers etc and even the meanest industry player would probably pay at least US$5bn (£3.6n) for its strategic value and future cash flows this year. That is about £1.50 a share from its current 4p.

I know some will say that is totally unrealistic. Still, the figures are there if you dig. It has happened before to shares with far less real value than SEE.

Takeover

But don’t worry, I anticipate that long before 2022 Seeing Machines will be bought by a huge company that does see the potential here. In any case, when SEE announces a couple more huge OEM wins (before the end of June) the price should start to appreciate substantially.

So why hasn’t it happened already? Well, I think the market has yet to catch up with reality. But the aroma of coffee is wafting inexorably towards its nose and it will wake up very, very soon.

Colin Barnden, Lead Analyst at Semicast Research wasn’t keen to be drawn on the exact valuation of Seeing Machines but did explain: “What is clear to me is no one is following the DMS market (the big investors still believe in autonomous driving at Levels 4 and 5). This will change soon enough and CES was a big step in that direction. Certainly the car OEMs are in no doubt. I think the delays have come about from the OEMs taking longer to decide which T1/T2 to use, and then rolling DMS out much faster than had been previously thought. All will be clearer by June.”

My fears of a low-ball bidder getting SEE on the cheap have now receded substantially, given the accelerating take up of its camera-based DMS into cars. Any such bid, if publicly acknowledged, would surely just ignite a bidding war.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

Panmure puts 28p price target on Seeing Machines’ auto division

In a note published on September 18th Sanjay Jha, an analyst at independent broker Panmure Gordon, reiterated his ‘Buy’ recommendation and placed a 28p price target on Seeing Machines.

The price target is lower than the 30p target he had in June but is still a remarkable endorsement by an independent analyst of the company’s domination of the global market for automative driver monitoring systems given all that has recently taken place in fleet.

In the note Jha  concluded: “We welcome the rationalisation of the Fleet business which has been a major distraction to the much larger opportunity in the Automotive sector, which saw the share price peak at 14p. Our investment case has been based almost entirely on the upside from the Automotive opportunity and continue to assume that the Fleet business has no value. Seeing Machines is in the pole position to capture at least half of the Driver Monitoring System (DMS) market with competition effectively limited to one other player (Smart Eye). With design wins with five OEMs and many more to come, we foresee a growing royalty revenue stream for many years to come.“

Endorsing the recent appointment of Jack Boyer to Chairman and the appointment of Ryan Murphy as COO, Jha commented: “These are the first steps in what we hope is a major overhaul of the Board and the executive team.”

Jha forecasts sales of A$37.6m for the 2019 financial year, rising to A$50.5m in 2020. “We estimate cash deficit of cA$5m by FY20, which arguably can be covered in debt markets. However, we also believe that the management can cut costs further particularly in Fleet engineering.”

Pointedly, he appears to have a dig at the information flow and forecasts coming out of Seeing Machines: “We note that the management expects revenues in FY19 to be approximately in line with FY18. We believe they should stop giving guidance until they have a good handle over internal information systems. In the last month, we have had two different versions of Guardian units delivered and expected to be delivered. Our forecasts, for what it’s worth, is based on Guardian data provided by the CEO today and our expectations for the Automotive sector.”

More auto wins

I’m personally confident that Seeing Machines will soon announce some huge auto wins: Toyota, FCA and Volvo. Other OEMs that I believe will fall to Seeing Machines include: Mazda, Honda, Subaru and Audi.

Indeed, in a previous note (published 19th June) Jha confirmed: “We believe that Smart Eye has been launched in first generation models of BMW, Audi and Jaguar Land Rover. At the time, Seeing Machines wasn’t allowed to bid for BMW and Audi as they were tied with Takata’s commitment to GM. However, we understand that Seeing Machines have now displaced Smart Eye in second generation BMW and we expect they will replace Smart Eye on future Audi models too. As we have highlighted previously, Seeing Machines has more robust licensing model with two offerings: Software and System on Chip (SoC), the latter allowing OEMs to deploy DMS across models more quickly and efficiently. Smart Eye doesn’t have its own silicon expertise and is heavily reliant on Aptiv to win platforms.”

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

Seeing Machines: it’s all about timing

I was slightly surprised at the timing of the revenue warning this week from Seeing Machines, as it has been clear for some time that Fleet has not being doing as well as expected with delays to Gen 2 and no news of business via Mix Telematics. 

It was a point that was succinctly made in the note from John-Marc Bunce, analyst at house broker Cenkos, when he wrote: “The news released yesterday regarding the fleet business is clearly disappointing, especially considering the issues with the Gen2 were first raised in May 2018”.

Given that Fleet (and Rail) have been perennial disappointments there will be a lot of pressure on Chief Executive Ken Kroeger to sacrifice someone. This might go some way to assuaging the anger of investors who’ve seen paper profits evaporate.

Yet, for me, it’s the timing of this announcement that’s of paramount importance. For by smashing the share price down It conveniently clears the way for a low ball bidder to come in and look like a white knight to investors.

I know that such a bid won’t immediately deliver anywhere near the full value that resides in this business – given the importance of its DMS technology to increasingly autonomous cars.

Still, many long-suffering shareholders would probably jump at the opportunity to sell at a very decent profit. Moreover, it ought to ignite a bidding war.

New contract wins

In any case, let me confirm that it is my belief that Seeing Machines:

1) Is set to win auto contracts with Toyota and FCA (news on the former is overdue).

2) Will be supplying its technology to one or more of these companies: Apple, Waymo and GM Cruise. (They’ll want more advanced systems than the non eye-tracking ones used by Uber, I’m sure).

3) Will see its tech used by Canadian Pacific Railway.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

Seeing Machines will win FCA

I firmly believe Seeing Machines is set to make it 3 out of 3 in the US, when it adds Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) to its existing customers, General Motors and Ford.

I know this runs counter to the views of the SmartEye analyst Viktor Westman but I’m confident Veoneer with Seeing Machines will be the preferred choice for FCA. My reasoning is simple: FCA is already a key customer of Veoneer and Seeing Machines has not only a superior DMS system but a very close working relationship with Veoneer.

If you were FCA would you choose a DMS system that is inferior to that of your main US rivals?

Japan

Meanwhile, over in Japan, it seems that Seeing Machines has made great progress in cracking that market. Toyota by all accounts is in the bag. Moreover, Seeing Machines is exhibiting its DMS with Japanese Tier 1, Nexty Electronics (that is part owned by Toyota) at the 1st Automotive World exhibition in Nagoya, Japan this week.