As the UK was voting to leave the EU I was speaking with Lorne Daniel, the analyst at house broker FinnCap who covers Seeing Machines.
It was Lorne who first opened my eyes to the enormous potential of this AIM-listed company.
Like me, he’s very much looking forward to the automotive spin-off, expected to raise up to US$50m, perhaps in two tranches. Interestingly, he feels confident that SEE will maintain a high stake, around 75% in the initial funding round, perhaps dropping to around 50% in the second round.
This is what he said: “In the initial round, I was thinking Seeing Machines would have 75% and the investors will have about 25%. Then it would drop to around 50% for the second round. Nothing has been confirmed yet but that was my thinking.
“I guess we will find out but as I understand it they need around US$50m. So, however that comes in, (for example, $25m and then $25m), I would be disappointed if they didn’t value their own IP at US$50m plus. I think it is worth, far more than that by any sort of calculation.”
“But to be fair, these initial investors are likely to be industry giants taking a big stake and they will want their cut. That’s fine.
“The template is Mobileye which has a US$8bn valuation on the US market with revenue of just US$240m. If Seeing Machines’ automotive spin off gets anywhere near that rating nobody will worry what that initial valuation was.”
Now my belief is that GM Ventures is the cornerstone investor and that VS Industries is investor number two. I don’t know who the third might be but I’m hoping it may be Intel.
We shouldn’t have to wait too much longer to find out, given that Seeing Machines announced that lead investor had signed a term sheet on May 16.
Not only is SEE getting 15% of the growing royalty stream and monthly revenues from sales of its product by Caterpillar, but it involves virtually no cost. Moreover, as soon as a telematics deal gets announced, and we already have MOUs, this will have forecasts upgraded substantially. This is turn should lead to a significant price rise and a further re-rerating.
It’s significant that Seeing Machines is now leveraging insurers and telematics companies to roll out its technology in a cost-effective way.
As it starts to grow you can also expect momentum traders and larger funds to start getting interested in the company, which would drive the price up further.
Of course, all this supposes that things go smoothly, which is never the case in business.
Lorne Daniel currently has a price target of 12p on SEE and I’d expect that to rise following either the launch of the auto-spin-off or a significant fleet contract.
I’d be concerned that as the company is so undervalued, particularly given the limited downside and the virtually unlimited upside, an attempt to take it over on the cheap can’t be ruled out. This could be a direct competitor, or possibly a partner on the telematics front, or even Mobileye whose technology offering would be significantly enhanced.
In fact, I could reel off half a dozen companies that might logically seek strategic advantage by buying SEE.
However, the auto spin-off (by providing independent valuation of its IP far in excess of its current market value) will make this eventuality less likely. Certainly, any company then wishing to takeover Seeing Machines will have to pay a significant sum. I personally don’t think US$1bn would be an unrealistic sum to expect at that stage.
As the auto spin-off is very likely to be completed this side of Christmas (key management should definitely be in place by then), I’m prepared to stick my neck out and say that within 18 months I expect SEE to have a valuation of between 50-75p. That’s quite a rise from 3.25p at the time of writing.
Of course, you should always do your own research before investing.
The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.