Seeing Machines’ canny acquisition outweighed by Peel Hunt’s reduced price target

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Investors were left scratching their heads as a bargain acquisition by Seeing Machines that enhances its automotive DMS/OMS offering, cements its presence in Europe and secures it more automotive contracts, was outweighed by news that Peel Hunt has reduced its price target from 12p to 9p.

The acquisition was of Asaphus Vision, a Berlin-based company that was owned by Valeo and which has strong IP in AI and machine learning relating to facial recognition and DMS. According to the RNS issued today, it supports a strategic collaboration with Valeo to grow market share in automotive. Moreover, the  acquisition for US$6m (only $2m in the first two years) is “expected to be cash neutral on an operating basis.”

Peel Hunt had previously stated (in a note dated 26th June) that it would reduce its forecasts “to reflect the timeline for the expansion of its driver monitoring systems (DMS) shifting to the right and slower-than expected roll-out of the Gen 3 aftermarket product.”

It that note it stated:“Greater uptake in ‘basic’ DMS has diluted royalty per car, whilst Gen 3 delays mean Aftermarket sales are low-margin end-of -life Gen 2.”

Today, Peel Hunt analyst Oliver Tipping confirmed that view: “Greater demand for low-priced ‘basic’ DMS and the delay in getting its Gen 3 aftermarket product ready to ship, mean FY24 margins are lower than expected. Underlying progress remains solid, today’s acquisition further differentiates its expertise, and the EU regulations mandating more advanced DMS (at a higher ASP) in 2026 keep us bullish on the medium term prospects. We revise our numbers based on this shift to the right and lower our 12-month TP from 12p to 9p, but retain our Buy rating.”

Its forecast revenue figures for the financial year ending 30 June 2025 has been reduced to $76.8m from $91m, with its pre-tax loss forecast to rise to $11.8m from $1.2m, with cash EBITDA falling to $1m from $11.3m. 

Bargain acquisition

Far from being dismayed at these developments, I think the market is being far too pessimistic. Seeing Machines has got a bargain acquisition in Asaphus, which only a year ago was valued at $12.5m by owner Valeo, for whom it was its internal DMS/OMS product development division.  Moreover, it’s tech reached commercial deployment in 3 automotive programmes, including one in China.

According to Peter McNally at house broker Stifel: “While Seeing Machines has worked with Valeo in the past, its work has had to be carefully delineated to account for Aphasus. With the company taking ownership of this asset, it appears that Valeo has now aligned itself with Seeing Machines technology and is evidenced by a statement from a representative of Valeo in today’s release which states, ‘We are delighted with this collaboration. Combining their teams with Seeing Machines, we will benefit from the best-in-class perception software to integrate into our hardware and software architecture for driver and occupant monitoring systems. Together, we will be able to provide more competitive solutions.’

McNally believes this tie up with another Tier 1 automotive supplier, in addition to Magna, is “a sign that the market is increasingly moving toward Seeing Machines’ solution.”

Deepening partnerships

So what are the implications for the future? Well, this is McNally’s take. “We note that less than a year ago, Valeo announced its Smart Safety 360 product that was suggested within the industry to use Mobileye (MYLY.O, not covered) advanced driver assistance (ADAS), as well as Seeing Machines DMS in the same product. We also note that Seeing Machines signed a non- exclusive distribution agreement with Mobileye in February 2023. We wonder what the combination of partnerships including these companies could be in the future. It appears that Seeing Machines has made partnerships/agreements with these companies that could be deepening the involvement amongst them.”

I believe this deal makes Seeing Machines an even more attractive target for an acquisition in the near future as its global dominance grows and high quality DMS/OMS becomes the only game in town.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

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