Magna-ificent performance from Seeing Machines

Following recent announcements relating to Magna, reinforced by analysis from CEO Paul McGlone at an investor event in London, I’m confident that Seeing Machines’ technology lead across, auto, fleet and aviation will soon start to be reflected in its share price.

The recent news that auto Tier 1 Magna is paying US$17.5m for the exclusive rights to use Seeing Machines technology in its rearview mirrors until the end of 2025, while also agreeing to invest up to an additional US$47.5m, just confirms its global leadership position in Driver and Occupant Monitoring Systems (DOMS). 

Crucially, the cash injection removes any concerns that Seeing Machines needs to raise cash. It is now fully funded to profitability in 2024.

The Canadian Tier 1 Magna has gone exclusive with Seeing Machines in rearview mirrors because it aims to the vast majority of that market, 100% has been suggested by one expert, as no real rival to their DOMS offering currently exists. By partnering with Seeing Machines it has a product that is apparently superior to that of its competitors in terms of price, performance, and time to market. That’s presumably why it won the huge A$125m VW contract in December 2021. 

By 2026, it’s likely that Magna will have won as much as 50% of the overall auto DOMS market in partnership with Seeing Machines – since half of DOMS is forecast to be delivered via rearview mirrors. Thus it will have done to its main rival Gentex what Qualcomm has done to Intel in auto. The huge VW win with Magna should have confirmed this, future wins certainly will. 

It’s no coincidence that both Magna and Qualcomm have chosen to partner exclusively with Seeing Machines. These moves should be seen as part of a strategic land grab that I expect to deliver Seeing Machines at least 75% of the auto DOMS market by volume by 2026.

That is because its competitors (Smart Eye, Cipia, and Jungo) aren’t winning anywhere near the number or volume of RFQs that Seeing Machines is. For example, Smart Eye appears to have effectively been replaced by Seeing Machines in forthcoming BMW models. The 10 BMW models featuring Smart Eye technology are from past wins, such as the X5 (2015) and M8 (2018). 

Of course, OEMs may do some dual sourcing. Speaking to Smart Eye last week its CEO Martin Krantz tentatively said that Smart Eye “will probably be in future BMWs”. I wish him luck but I don’t think it is going to be a threat to Seeing Machines going forward. 

Indeed, investors need to beware of looking in the rearview mirror at market share unless they want to crash their prospects for significant financial gains. For those paying attention to the road ahead, it’s Seeing Machines that is in the fast lane to market dominance. 

Over the past year, Seeing Machines states that it has won 80% of the RFQs for which it has bid. I’m confident it will maintain that win rate with the $A1-2 billion of contracts for which it is currently bidding.

Looking at design wins, Smart Eye currently boasts 94, while Seeing Machines has 120. However, even this figure fails to reflect the latter’s dominance. Not all of Smart Eye’s 94 ‘wins’ made it into production, in contrast, every Seeing Machines design win has hit the road. 

I’ve long admired the Smart Eye people – not least for their PR bravado – but it can’t blind me as to where I should invest my hard-earned dough. I’d also be doing readers a disservice if I didn’t state what I honestly believe. 

Following the Seeing Machines investor presentation Friday, (when the video is posted I will provide a link) I’m very confident that an inflection point has been reached.

Increased margins

From now on license revenues for vehicles hitting the roads will begin to ramp up for Seeing Machines. This is a very high-margin business as the main costs have already been borne in the development phase. It currently has a pipeline of A$395m in auto but this is expected to grow substantially over the next few years on the back of further wins.

Similarly, in aftermarket more large enterprise customers such as Shell are coming along. These margins for selling the product and the monitoring service are much higher than selling indirectly via distributors.

It should also be noted that Seeing Machines Gen 3 Guardian will be launched by the end of this financial year, opening up the prospect of huge scale-up in Fleet sales. The product has apparently been re-engineered to reduce costs yet will be better, with automotive-grade additions and much faster install times. In addition, there is huge money to be made from the service element of monitoring the drivers.

Thus, now there is clear visibility of increasing revenues and cashflows with SEE set to make huge profits over the next few years.

In addition, I’m still confident that a lucrative license deal will soon be struck to deliver See’s pilot monitoring technology into the cockpits of aircraft. Being early is the same as being wrong but I hope by Christmas I’m proven right.

Bids coming

As readers know, I’ve long believed that SEE will face a near-term bid. To that view some have argued that such is its success that it really doesn’t need a takeover to prosper, unlike some of its rivals who hope to be saved by one. I’d certainly agree with the assessment that Seeing Machines could perfectly well prosper as an independent.

However, even if Seeing Machines isn’t ‘up for sale’, it doesn’t mean that it cannot be bought. A wise man recently told me: ‘Great companies get bought NOT sold’. Well, I believe Seeing Machines is a great company.

Ask yourself, how badly must some company want what Seeing Machines has? Its technological lead, data, and market leadership would take years and many billions to replicate for even a company of the stature of Google, Apple, or Amazon. If you had the money (and they do) why wouldn’t you just buy it?

If Magna is prepared to pay millions for the exclusive use of SEE technology for a couple of years, why wouldn’t they want it permanently? Qualcomm, AMD, Intel, and Nvidia also have reasons to enter a bidding war when the starting gun is fired. Indeed, even Gentex does if it wants to win future DOMS rear-view mirror contracts and protect its market share from rivals such as Magna.

There’s even the argument that a consolidator might want Cerence and Seeing Machines to create something very special.

Value stock

As legendary value investor Irving Kahn taught, investing is an art rather than a science but I think were he alive today, he’d take an interest in Seeing Machines as it ticks many of the criteria he looked for in an investment.

The good news for investors is that they can now sit back and enjoy the ride. It has been substantially de-risked, which is why Cenkos upgraded to 25p last week. I expect the other analysts following the company to do likewise in short order as the contracts and license deals roll in. 

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

2019: Seeing the rise of driver monitoring

It’s now mainstream news that 2019 will be the year the world realises that driver monitoring systems are the next big thing in the world of auto. After all even Waymo CEO John Krafcik has acknowledged that widespread adoption of autonomous cars is some way away – hence its use of a Back-up Driver Monitor in its vehicles.

Seeing Machines is the leader in this space and it’s great to see some of its OEM customers, such as Byton, BMW, Mercedes at CES 2019. Others that have been developing DMS now realise they will have to choose SEE if they want the best camera-based DMS system.

Smarteye’s move to develop a chip must be seen both as a validation of Seeing Machines’ auto strategy but also as an indication that it is losing out to the Fovio chip in winning OEM business.

Auto revenues underestimated

It’s my contention that in the light of the incessant and pressing demand for its technology Seeing Machines auto revenues from 2020 onwards will be seen to be vastly underestimated.

Examining a detailed note from house broker Cenkos dated 22nd June 2018 is revealing. In it, (page 14) analyst John-Marc Bunce predicted auto revenues of A$63m in 2021, rising to A$213m by 2022.

I’d argue that global penetration of DMS as well as Seeing Machines market share of that penetration have been underestimated. That is already becoming clear to industry insiders and will become obvious to investors very soon.

What I believe will trigger it will be confirmation that Seeing Machines has cracked any of the following: another premium European OEM (Volvo or VW), a US OEM (Fiat Chrysler) and a Japanese OEM (Toyota, Honda, Subaru). I don’t think investors have too long to wait.

To be fair to Bunce he did acknowledge in the above note: “If Seeing Machines, as a similar market leader to MobileEye, manages to win 60% market share of the DMS market, and we assume global penetrating of DMS is 80% in 2026, this would imply the potential for over 50m vehicles pa (which compares to our current forecast of 27m).

It seems perfectly logical to me that a big beast will acquire Seeing Machines long before this becomes a reality — and not for peanuts either. Indeed, it’s strategic value cannot be overestimated and, even as I write, I wonder if discussions are taking place at CES that may eventually result in a takeover.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

Seeing Machines wins Apple for Back-up Driver Monitoring

According to my sources Seeing Machines will be supplying its new Backup-driver Monitoring System (Guardian BdMS) to Apple and is very likely to win GM Cruise, possibly Waymo also.

In the typically low key fashion in which Seeing Machines delivers good news to the market the announcement was put out more like a product release than an RNS. Hidden away in the third paragraph it stated: “Seeing Machines has signed an agreement with one customer and is in advanced discussions with a number of companies at the forefront of autonomous vehicle development.”

This is outstandingly good news for the AIM-listed minnow and means Silicon Valley has followed global car manufacturers (GM, BMW, Mercedes and Ford) in recognising Seeing Machines’ driver monitoring technology as best in class.

Apple, in typical fashion, has not replied to any of my emails on this subject but its secrecy in such matters relating to Apple Car is well known.

As stated in my previous blog post, I still expect wins with FCA and Toyota to be announced in due course.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

Seeing Machines wins BMW contract worth between US$125m to US$250m

I’m convinced that Seeing Machines has recently been awarded a contract worth more than US$25m a year by BMW to supply its driver monitoring system in its cars, some of which should be available for sale by 2020.

From discussions with auto industry contacts, I believe the contract is for many forthcoming models (several million cars) and the DMS is likely to eventually end up being standard issue within the instrument cluster of all BMW cars. Given that BMW sells roughly 2.3m cars a year and that Seeing Machines would get approximately US$30 a car, that makes a potential annual income of US$57m a year by 2020, rounded down to US$50m.

Given that in the auto industry the lifetime of a model lasts for roughly 5 years, the lifetime value of this contract should be at least US$125m, though it could be as much as US$250m.

When this news is officially announced I’d expect broker upgrades to be the order of the day.  FinnCap currently has an estimate for full year revenues of A$141m for 2020 and Canaccord Genuity has an estimate of A$128.5m — of which only A$24m is from auto!

Aptiv

There has been no official announcement of the contract win aside from an announcement by Aptiv on page 9 of this document that I take as confirmation. 

When questioned, Aptiv were unwilling to discuss any details, saying: “…unfortunately we have nothing incremental approved to share beyond what’s in the document.”

Given the scale of BMW’s operations, the BMW contract may be shared with at least one other Tier 1 but no others that I’ve contacted are keen to confirm or deny involvement.

BMW itself remained rather coy. Asked how it plans to solve the problem of driver disengagement and the associated issue of ensuring the driver is alert and ready to take back control from the car, whether it would use a driver monitoring system and who would supply it, a spokesman said: “So far we have only announced that interior cameras will play a role ensuring the vaild point you mention. Details on functions and suppliers have not yet been announced. We have to ask for a little more patience.”

Seeing Machines was contacted but declined to comment.

Winning BMW so soon after it won a huge contract with Mercedes last year truly cements Seeing Machines’ Fovio driver monitoring system as the leading DMS in the auto industry. The premium choice for premium auto manufacturers.

Note that General Motors Cadillac already features Seeing Machines Fovio DMS.

Not only is Seeing Machines working hand in glove with Autoliv and Bosch, but I believe its DMS is now being used by LG (Mercedes), Aptiv and probably others that I don’t know about.

Driven by regulatory changes many other car OEMs are going to be tendering for DMS systems and Seeing Machines is set to be the industry standard. A standard that i’m consistently told no other company can yet match.

Thus, I’m confident that Fovio is likely to be chosen by many other global OEMs as they gear up new, increasingly semi-autonomous, vehicles for production over the next year.

Valuation

By my reckoning the automotive side of Seeing Machines must already be worth £1bn and with every new win is only increasing in value.

Moreover, there’s a strong case for arguing the rest of the business (Fleet, Aviation, Rail and Off-road)  is worth another £1bn.

Given the success of Seeing Machines in winning large contracts and the increasing momentum of M&A activity in the auto industry I believe it’s only a matter of time before a bid is forthcoming from an industry player. Let’s hope the price soon reflects the value of the business.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines

Seeing Machines secures premium German car manufacturer

Seeing Machines (AIM: SEE) has today announced that it has won a contract with a premium German auto manufacturer in conjunction with a major Tier 1 auto manufacturer.

This is a further striking endorsement of its Fovio Driver Monitoring technology, which is already in the new Cadillac CT6’s Supercruise feature – the car was launched by General Motors this autumn in the US.

The awarded models are scheduled for mass production in 2020. My own guess is the manufacture is probably Mercedes. If it is, the tech is likely to debut in its top of the range S series, which is scheduled for a relaunch in 2020.

Motoroids wrote an interesting article about the Mercedes S Class 2020/21 a few months back.

However, it could equally well be Volkswagen with whom Seeing Machines have been working — they exhibited together at CES in 2017,  or even BMW as there is some evidence to suggest Seeing Machines have been working with them.

What is more important than the actual name of the manufacturer is how much money it is likely to bring into this very undervalued small cap tech play in one of technologies hottest sectors; semi and fully autonomous driving.

This is what Seeing Machines had to say: “According to previously given guidelines, this may be considered a Medium value program (from A$10M-A$25M revenue) based on the initial included models and lifetime volume projections, with the potential to become a Large value program in time (>A$25M revenue).  It is worth noting that volume projections can change materially, up or down, and as is typical in automotive industry contracts, there are no guarantees beyond engineering milestone payments.”

For me, this contract from another of the world’s leading car companies establishes that the Fovio Driving Monitoring system is best in class. Moreover, given the contract could be worth as much as 50% of Seeing Machines current market cap, it looks very undervalued.

Certainly, Seeing Machines seems very confident, as  Nick DiFiore, General Manager of Automotive at Seeing Machines, commented: “We are proud to be awarded this benchmark DMS program from both an OEM and Tier 1 with state-of-the art requirements.  Their confidence in us is a testament to the leading-edge nature of our FOVIO DMS technology, which is the culmination of years of innovative development and hard-earned Automotive application expertise by our team.  We look forward to delivering this leading-edge DMS program and further delivering our new FOVIO platform products to our growing Automotive customer base worldwide.”

Lorne Daniels, analyst with house broker FinnCap, believes that Seeing Machines is now the “go-to supplier for DMS in automotive”.

In a note published today, Daniels wrote: “Euro NCAP’s recent announcement mandating DMS as a key criterion for vehicle safety has sharpened the timeline and focus for OEMs; it takes years to design a model and if they want a 5-star rating after 2020 they will need to integrate a good DMS. Fovio is proven, reliable and quite literally, already on the road; a natural choice for the global automotive industry.”

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.