Peel Hunt note questions Smart Eye and Seeing Machines comparison

Peet Hunt Analyst Oliver Tipping has issued a broker note on Seeing Machines that questions the contract size for Smart Eye’s recent US$150m win, while stating that Seeing Machines puts out minimum values for its wins. This is a point I made recently but, coming from Peel Hunt, it confirms it for any doubters out there.

Still, the most important point made in the note was that aside from its most recent $30m win, there are many more auto contracts expected to be announced by Seeing Machines early in the New Year. Tipping wrote: “This win was the first of the major European contracts Seeing Machines was hoping to win before the end of the year, thus its pipeline remains robust as it looks to deliver more wins in early 2024.”

The numbers game

Tipping also confirmed that Seeing Machines is very conservative regarding its contract values: “It  is  important  to  remember  that  the contract value Seeing  Machines reports is conservatively  based  off  minimum  production  volumes,  which are  likely  to  be  far  lower  than  the  actual  production  values  for  these contracts.”

Then he went on to caution investors. “It is vital for investors to be aware of the  differences  between  the  numbers  thrown  around by different  companies  in the DMS market. For example, it would be easy to be distracted by the SEK 1.55bn (US$150m) figure quoted in Smart Eye’s most recent win (which we believe to be General Motors). However, we are unclear how this figure has been calculated as Smart Eye  does  not  disclose its  method  for calculating the  value  of  these  contacts. In addition, this contract was as a tier 1 supplier to the OEM. Given it currently acts as a tier 2 supplier to this OEM, its CEO stated volume as a tier 1 supplier is only likely to ramp in 2029, into the 2030s (not from 2027 as mentioned in the RNS) and  thus  has  no  impact  on  cash  generation  in  the  short  to  medium  term.” 

Tipping went on to stress that the key indicator of success is cars on the road, stating: “Until Smart Eye starts reporting this number, the tangibility and true worth of the contract wins remains unclear.”

Still, I’m sure the figures put out by Smart Eye will help it immensely in any future fundraising efforts.

Aside from dealing a knock-out blow to those who think Smart Eye is the global leader in driver and occupant monitoring, the note maintained its ‘Buy’ stance on Seeing Machines and its 12p price target. 

Importantly, it also confirmed that Seeing Machines has, as promised by CFO Martin Ives, started to cut its expenditure. Analyst Oliver Tipping wrote: “Management confirmed that it has executed the first of its cost-cutting measures aimed at bringing the cash burn down to break-even by FY25 (-$3m a month exit run rate from FY23). We await further details in  the  1H24  update,  but  this  will  be  crucial  in  underpinning  the  long-term viability of the business. For now, the company has a strong balance sheet, which should see it to its targeted break-even date.”

Auto contracts worth $1bn

With its latest win Seeing Machines now has auto contracts officially worth US$366m. However, as previously stated, given Seeing Machines propensity to cite minimum values that turn out to be much larger, I believe the real worth of those contracts is approximately 3 times that. Yes, $1bn! 

Why is that significant? Well $1bn in auto contracts surely makes it a very desirable candidate for a takeover in the very near future, particularly as it is soon to hit break-even.

With the move to assisted driving taking over from dreams of full autonomy and legislation coming into effect this year in Europe that mandates driver monitoring, the future is looking very bright for Seeing Machines.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

US$30m contract for Seeing Machines

Great news from Seeing Machines today, as it announced a US$30m auto contract, which I think may well be PSA (part of Stellantis). However, others think it is likely to be Volvo (owned by Geely) moving from Smart Eye or even Jaguar, (owned by Tata).

If it is PSA, I look forward to state-of-the-art driver monitoring being launched in Peugeot, Citroen, DS, Opel and Vauxhall cars.

On the face of it the deal is much smaller than Smart Eye’s US$150m but, given that Seeing Machines tends to be ultra conservative, if you multiply the Seeing Machines minimum value by three and cut the Smart Eye one in half I think you’ll end up with a more realistic estimate of the value of both deals; US$90m versus US$75m.

Importantly, the announcement has confirmed that SEE management does deliver on its promises. Moreover, with the huge Consumer Electronics Show (CES) only 3 weeks away (9-13 January, 2024), I expect a lot more news to push the share price up considerably over the next month. We’ll see, I guess.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

Don’t despair with SEE: do more research

I must admit to having been a bit distracted by the ongoing genocide in Gaza over the past couple of months. Still, I felt it important to provide my views on the recent Kr1.55bn (US$150m) Smart Eye contract, as I know a lot of investors are rightly concerned by lack of news flow on the automotive front from Seeing Machines (AIM: SEE) – aside from a relatively small (US$15m) contract win in early November.

I do think the recent Smart Eye contract is with General Motors, as that has been the conclusion of 3 sources better placed than me to know about it (Colin Barnden, the RedEye analyst and my private source). Am I particularly concerned? Quite frankly, no. My guess is that, and it is only my guess, the contract is dual sourcing at bargain basement levels. As to the size of the contract, well SmartEye normally pump out the biggest figure they can so the lifetime value given is likely an absolute maximum.

Still, it is big positive for SEYE and I wish them well. The market is big enough for both SEE and SEYE and things are clearly hotting up in this space. 

As to SmartEye, being a Tier 1? Well, I think that is wishful thinking. Possibly a case of necessity being considered a virtue. For I still maintain my thesis that SEE takes 75% of the auto market with the Magna mirror and Valeo.  

Positives for SEE

If there is a positive for Seeing Machines, it’s that the logjam regarding larger auto contracts appears to be over. Moreover, the SEYE contract starts in 2027 so I think SEE via the Magna mirror has won a lot of contracts that will start before then.

That said, if we don’t get a big auto contract by the end of this quarter it’s definitely a disappointment. It’s particularly so given the fact that the strong likelihood of multiple contracts this quarter was flagged by both CEO Paul McGlone and his CFO, Martin Ive, in various interviews.

Still, I do believe they are honest and have been let down by OEM shenanigans re. The announcement of further contracts. My hope is that CES will deliver the news we’ve been waiting for re. Auto, with great news coming for Aftermarket with the launch of Gen 3 Guardian.

Indeed, I’ve been impressed by Ive since he joined (and not just because he looks like my younger brother). I also hear that he is cutting expenditure, as promised, to ensure SEE reaches breakeven as promised.

More effective communication

In the absence of said contract news, I’d like to see more timely and effective communication to stem the concerns of private investors. They (unlike fund managers) can’t just ring up the CEO to check on their investments. Moreover, for a private investor their investment often represents a huge proportion of their investment portfolio, not a mere 5 per cent maximum as in most funds.

I ask for this because I fear that many private investors are currently selling down their holdings because of a lack of reassurance from the company. Times for many are tough and I’d hate for private investors to miss out on what I increasingly believe will be rich rewards.

Please don’t take my word for any of this, it’s just my humble opinion and I’ve been wrong on details in the past. That said, being too early into an investment isn’t the same as being wrong. Indeed, I maintain that my original investment thesis remains intact, which is why I still hold this stock. In any case, do your own research as it will benefit you in the long run.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

6 reasons why SEE gets bought in 2024

I’m convinced that next year is set to be the year that Seeing Machines finally gets bought.

Here’s why: 

  • In the next few months Seeing Machines will prove to even the most sceptical observer that its DMS/OMS land grab has been successful, with it taking over 75% of the global market by value. The partnerships it has formed with the likes of Qualcomm, Magna, Valeo, etc. are unrivalled and its tech and implementation are clearly a cut above any other provider.
  • The launch of the third generation of its Guardian product for trucks and buses will see that business slash box costs and times for installation, enabling it to go ten times on that business in short order. Mobileye marketing it for Aftermarket should be a game changer.
  • Aviation will have been proved as a lucrative business that has legs, thanks to its partnership with Collins and the first of many huge, long-term contracts.
  • It is also clear that its technology has applications in other transport verticals, marine, and rail for instance, not to mention other industries such as robotics, entertainment, and security.
  • Profitability will become a certainty with the above contracts, leading to more funds investing and the price rising substantially, making it more attractive and fuelling the greed of a potential buyer.
  • There are just too many huge companies who now have a direct interest in acquiring this market leader, not to mention a huge amount of Private Equity capital available to fund a takeover. Moreover, if it were to go for $5bn, they could be fairly confident of it rising in value to $15bn-£20bn within a three-year horizon.

While the bulk of investors (including fund managers) are only now beginning to understand the strengths and potential of Seeing Machines, that can’t be said of the industry players, the chip companies and Tier 1s, who regularly work with Seeing Machines or come across its technology. Moreover, the likes of Alphabet, Amazon, and Apple know Seeing Machines and must like what they see.

Great business

A much smarter man than me, an investor, business manager, and experienced entrepreneur who has sold businesses, once told me: “Great businesses get bought NOT sold”. 

While some may hanker after a Nasdaq listing, I think market conditions over the next year and beyond will mitigate against this and leave an opportunity for a competitive bidding situation to arise.

I don’t know when exactly this will happen nor who will win but a bid is coming, of that I’m fairly certain. After all, Bosch was interested 5 years ago and Seeing Machines’ business is incomparably stronger now. Moreover, the dream of widespread adoption of autonomous vehicles has been shown to be just that, a dream that will take decades to be realised. Thus leaving the field to those who want to make driven cars safer.

Great value

In view of all the above, there is just too much value here at a sickeningly cheap price. (I’d be saying that even if the price was 35p, not 5p). The market abhors cheap value, as much as nature abhors a vacuum.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

Seeing Machines revenues beat broker forecasts

Seeing Machines trading for the FY2023 ending 30 June, was US$57.8m, beating all broker estimates. Moreover, it points to the current financial year being a transformational one for the AI-powered, vision-tech safety company.

Indeed, my model’s prediction of revenues at $60m would have been hit had the US$3m contribution from Collins Aerospace been included. Never mind, as the money was actually received in August, it will go into the 2024 figures.

All three divisions (Auto, Aftermarket and Aviation) are doing very well and will see growth increase over the next year.

  • AUTO. There are now over 1m cars on the road with Seeing Machines DMS in them, an increase of 143% over the past year. Moreover, the numbers will accelerate as more vehicles with its tech are launched to meet the requirements of the EU’s General Safety Regulation, which comes into effect in July 2024. I still believe it will achieve a 75 per cent share by value of this global market – although, hitherto the company itself has only confirmed 40 per cent by volume and 50 per cent by value.
  • AFTERMARKET. The Guardian business had almost 52,000 heavy vehicles connected, with record sales (10,000 plus) in the fourth quarter. That represents an annual growth rate of 30 per cent but I expect a huge increase this year with the launch of its third generation offering, at a higher profit margin.
  • AVIATION. This is starting to deliver revenues following its exclusive license deal with Collins Aerospace. Aside from license revenue of $10m over 3 years, it will also receive non-recurring revenue payments to develop specific solutions, which will in turn evolve into potential future royalty payments as products are shipped to customers.

I can only agree with the comments from analyst Damindu Jayaweera at Peel Hunt who, in a note published today, concludes:

“Since initiating coverage, the company has delivered positive surprises in the form of a large aviation contract with Collins Aerospace, and this FY23E beat. With the support of the Magna contract, we see a cash runway well into FCF generation. Despite all this, the shares are back to 2018-20 levels, when it looked as if the company would run out of its cash runway. We believe this dislocation is an opportunity that investors should exploit, following in the footsteps of all the insider buying we flagged in our initiation. We reiterate our Buy rating and 12p TP.”

In my humble opinion, Seeing Machines represents that rare combination of a value play that is set for stellar growth. However, do your own research.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

Seeing Machines rises in expectation of positive trading update

The price of Seeing Machines is rising in expectation of it beating consensus forecasts for the 2023 full year to 30th June, when it provides its trading update on 22nd August.

To refresh your memories, here are most of the broker forecasts for Seeing Machines FY2023. Unfortunately, I’m missing that of its house broker, Stifel. 

Brokers2023 revenues (US$)2023 adjusted pre-tax loss
Cenkos 53.5m15.2m
Panmure 56.7m13.2m
Berenberg 54.1m16.8m
Peel Hunt 53.8m17.1m
Stifel


Safestocks60m11m

I’m confidently predicting that Seeing Machines will beat these estimates and have pencilled in revenues of around US$60m for 2023. I’m not even going to provide 2024 estimates as I expect all the brokers to upgrade soon. Indeed, even their initial upgrades won’t factor in likely progress over the course of the 2024 financial year.

There is also a frisson of excitement around the launch of its Gen 3 Guardian Aftermarket product. I expect to learn the date for the launch of its Gen 3 product for trucks on 22nd August. I’m hoping it is before the end of September and is announced with at least one sizeable contract — it must have been going through its paces with existing Fleet customers.

Auto and Aviation appear to be progressing well and further positive updates could well drive the price to all-time highs by this Christmas. 

EBITDA breakeven

Furthermore, I’m expecting confirmation of further news in the coming months that should send the share price into overdrive as EBITDA breakeven is brought forward. Breakeven at the EBITDA level isn’t more than 12-18 months away based on the current trajectory. Still, I expect sales to accelerate from here to such an extent that I believe there is a likelihood that we hit EBITDA breakeven by the end of the current financial year. Should brokers publicly confirm this the share price will go gangbusters.

My confidence in the near term is also strengthened by a comment from the analyst now covering Seeing Machines at Berenberg. In a note dated 21 July, 2023 Robert Chantry stated: “We also expect the company, in the medium term, to leverage its significant knowledge pool and expertise to develop new products and adjacent technologies, particularly once it has achieved breakeven at EBITDA. This might include other types of transport, as well as revenue streams relating to marketing.”

Given that Seeing Machines always plans years ahead you can be pretty confident that what Chantry opined isn’t mere conjecture.

Here are my thoughts:

  • Transport. I believe that in the past Seeing Machines has undertaken some marine trials of its technology and we know it has been used in trains. The fast-growing eVTOL market seems ripe for such tech plus there is all manner of machinery, from tractors to cranes that could perhaps do with it. It surely is a no-brainer that SEE’s tech get’s licensed to Tier 1s in other transport sectors now that it has Auto, Aftermarket (Fleet) and Aviation sewn up.
  • Marketing. Eye-tracking has been used by competitors to assess the efficacy of marketing, for instance Tobii. As Tobii has entered the DMS space (albeit with no sign of success), it seems only fair that Seeing Machines returns the favour.

Tesla

Strangely enough, I received a press release this week from CMC Markets that mentions that Tesla is the UK’s most googled S&P500 stock, with an average of 260,180 Google searches a month. In my books that is probably a sign to sell the stock. In a saner world, those people would instead be googling Seeing Machines. 

An additional irony is that Tesla really ought to be putting Seeing Machines Driver Monitoring into its vehicles. It would stop ‘bad Ted driving’ and save lives.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

Seeing Machines DMS ensures Ford BlueCruise is super safe

Last week I was privileged to be invited to test drive the 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E, whose BlueCruise hands-off driving system uses Seeing Machines’ Driver Monitoring.

I’m no motoring journalist but I have to admit the Mach-E delivered a very impressive experience using its ‘hands-off, eyes on’ assisted driving. Fortunately, I was in the company of Robert Llewellyn of Fully Charged Show fame. Aside from being good company, he’s very knowledgeable about electric cars and absolutely loved Mach-E SuperCruise, as I’m sure he’ll soon reveal in one of his videos.

This is from the presentation Ford supplied on the day:

  • BlueCruise builds on the capabilities of Ford’s Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control, which can automatically keep pace with traffic within legal speed limits, right down to a complete halt.
  • Hands-free mode allows drivers to drive with their hands off the steering wheel on approved Blue Zone sections of motorway, so long as they continue to keep their eyes on the road ahead – granting an additional level of comfort during long drives.
  • Before transitioning to hands-free driving, BlueCruise-equipped vehicles confirm that lane markings are visible, that the driver has their eyes on the road and that other conditions are appropriate.
  • The system uses animated cluster transitions featuring text and blue lighting cues to communicate that the feature is in hands-free mode, effective even for those with colour blindness.

Ford is rightly proud of the vehicle and its safety record. Indeed, the company boasts that during the 2 years BlueCruise has been available in the US its 200,000 users have covered 100m miles without incident.

What Ford isn’t shouting about is that it is Seeing Machines DMS that is the reason there haven’t been any incidents, as it ensures the driver’s eyes are on the road before, during and after BlueCruise is engaged.

Seeing Machines announces US$10m license deal with Collins Aerospace

Seeing Machines has announced its much anticipated Aviation license deal with Collins Aerospace, the world’s largest Tier 1 avionics company – as predicted here back in February

The “exclusive” and “perpetual” license deal provides a license payment of US$10m ($3m immediately and the $7m balance over the following 2 years). Collins will also pay Seeing Machines non-recurring engineering (NRE) payments to develop the solutions, evolving into potential future royalty payments as products are released to customers.

Although details as to what exactly is covered under the license were missing in the RNS, I’m hoping to eventually get some answers to those questions from the company. Or, maybe, we’ll be treated to a video of Pat Nolan taking a bow in conversation with Paul McGlone. (Certainly, both deserve a round of applause for this deal!). 

Muted response

What has really surprised me is the muted response from brokers covering the stock. None issued an upgrade, although they were all positive on the stock. Unbelievably, at the end of a huge week, the price has barely risen in response.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the 333-plane deal mentioned in the infamous ‘Italian Job’ video will materialise fairly soon. My guess is that some analysts are keeping their powder dry for that announcement. In the meantime, I can imagine paper-thin ‘Chinese walls’ mean some salespeople are telling their very special institutional clients to: “Buy, buy, buy”.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

Peel Hunt initiates coverage of Seeing Machines

Peel Hunt has initiated coverage of Seeing Machines with a 12p price target in a note published last week.

In the note Analyst Damindu Jayaweera argues: “With EU regulatory deadlines in mid-2024, we are starting to see a ramp-up in requests for quotes in the DMS market. Given its asset-light, flexible opex model, this should yield a Free Cash Flow (FCF) inflection. The well-funded balance sheet de-risks medium term.”

He went on to state: “We see further potential upside, based on the following potential catalysts:

  1. Signing an aviation licensing deal,
  2. Aftermarket product sales and accompanying monitoring contracts outstripping our estimates — as management is confident they will, and
  3. A shorter runway to there being more Seeing Machines-equipped cars on the road — again management sees upside beyond our royalties earnings estimates. 

We predict that the company will be FCF positive by 2026E, supported in the meantime by its cash reserves and the Magna facility.”

Later in the note (Page 10), Jayaweera provided more details on these potential catalysts. “First, signing an Aviation licensing deal would lead to a material uptick in revenues, as we have kept them immaterial in our forecasts. Second, Aftermarket product sales and accompanying monitoring contracts have the potential to outstrip our estimates: management is confident it can achieve over 10,000 unit sales in 2H23, >10% higher than our forecast. Finally, a shorter timeline to more equipped cars being on the road would generate upside, as we have been conservative with our royalty earnings assumptions given historical delays.”

For 2023 Jayaweera predicts sales of US$53.8m with FCF of minus $41m. Sales then continue rising to $118m in 2026, with FCF cash flow of $18m.

Certainly, long-suffering private investors should take heart that more and more analysts are starting to beat the drum for DMS and Seeing Machines in particular. 

The mantra we should be chanting is: “We weren’t wrong, we were just early”.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.