Is Seeing Machines set to be taken over within 6 months?

Following today’s interview with Seeing Machines CEO Paul McGlone, I’m convinced that Seeing Machines is set to soon follow Veoneer and be the subject of a bidding war, most likely within the next 6 months.

The main driver is its dominance in the automotive driver monitoring space, where it is set to win the lions share of a multi-billion dollar market over the next year. (My view is it wins at least 70% of the RFQs).

McGlone was very candid in the interview and the key part I’m going to refer to starts from around 13 minutes in. There he outlined the problem winning most of the DMS/OMS market brings to a relative minnow:

“In my opinion, this is the beginning of the consolidation in interior sensing. Not the end, the beginning. I doubt very much whether there will be 3 or 4 majors in this space 2 years from now.”

“One of the challenges we have right now is that with almost a billion dollars of RFQs, which is more than we’ve seen in our entire life, on our table today, and we expect another billion next year, we have a really important decision to make. Do we pursue it all, do we get selective and strategic about what we pursue? What are the investment implications for either choice?

It is very, very clear: if we pursue it all and we win at our historical run rate of 40 plus per cent it is a fantastic return on investment. So, over the next 2 quarters we’ll be looking in great detail around the volume of RFQs, the requirements in each of them…the cost of doing them and the return on investment. That is the big decision for us to make. We don’t have to make it now but we’ll be working on it over the next 2 quarters.”

I personally think the opportunity is so huge that even if Seeing Machines wanted to pursue the opportunity offered by automotive alone, it won’t be allowed to do so. However, I think they’ve already decided to sell if the price is right.

By the way, I think that price will be over £1. Looks silly when the price is 10p but huge contract wins haven’t yet been announced. When they are the price will rise and £1 will eventually look cheap.

Qualcomm grabbed Veoneer from the hands of Magna because it sees the strategic importance of active safety in automotive to its future business.

Seeing Machines is of even more importance as its technology is the jewel in the crown of active safety (an area that has grown in importance as the automotive industry comes to realise that mass adoption of fully autonomous vehicles is decades away). While car computer systems will increasingly carry out more tasks for drivers they’ll still need to ensure drivers are paying sufficient attention to take over when required.

Moreover, Seeing Machines technology, which at its height goes far beyond mere eye-tracking and helps computers to assess the cognitive load of a human (including whether they are incapacitated or not), has many uses that go far beyond passenger automotive. This includes trucking and uses in aviation (training simulators, ground control tracking and planes). Shipping and flying cars will surely follow and spacecraft would logically use it eventually.

Yet, its tech has uses far beyond transport: in XR headsets, mobiles, medical devices and robots. In all these markets Seeing Machines technology has the potential to deliver multi-billion dollar revenues to its owner.

That’s why, although I expect it to be valued partly on a forward order book in automotive, its dominance in the trucking and nascent aviation markets will also increase its intrinsic worth.

Crucially, it should also obtain a healthy premium for its strategic importance in developing future markets.

That’s why, although Qualcomm must be red hot favourites to take it over, there is the likelihood that another chip company (eager to spoil the party) or even a private equity firm (awash with dry powder and seeking to acquire valuable assets) will make a bid.

I also think a bid from Apple or even Alphabet is a strong possibility. Each will know its strategic importance to their future plans and be prepared to outbid Qualcomm for it. For example, after the money spent on Waymo for little real return it might make sense for Alphabet to hedge its bets and spend a few billion dollars to acquire a guaranteed golden goose like Seeing Machines. Equally, why should the forthcoming Apple Car not use its own DMS (from Seeing Machines) and use that technology in its own computer chips to power its headsets, mobiles and computers?

Of course, I could be completely wrong. After all, I once thought driver monitoring would be one of the hottest areas in automotive and look how that worked out.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

Expect massive re-rate of Seeing Machines by year end

Seeing Machines put out a positive year-end trading update today, without actually providing news of auto contract wins.

Fortunately, they are set to pile up over the next 6 months, with the company admitting it is bidding for a A$900m pipeline from numerous car manufacturers with 16 Tier 1s.

My view is that Seeing Machines, which has been working with the likes of Toyota and VW for years is set to take at least 75% of that pipeline. Indeed, one source (from outside the company) has already told me that A$750m is the figure I should have in mind, which would equate to over 80%. Another source (again outside the company) has recently validated my long-term bullish view on the company’s prospects in auto.

Of course, that pipeline will also grow as OEMs scale up initial contracts further. Indeed, the fact that Seeing Machines tech is now so much in demand must be the reason so many Tier 1s are now scrambling to work with it. They, unlike most investors, have seen the writing on the wall and its reads: ‘Seeing Machines DMS rules ok!’

That of course brings in the whole question of who is going to bid for the company and when?

With a A$1bn+ order book in auto set to become a reality in the present financial year, I’m sure informal approaches are becoming more regular. 

But Seeing Machines is traditional and I have a feeling any match will be an arranged one. One that will need the approval of the whole family of shareholders.

However, Seeing Machines needn’t be in any rush as its value should be considered in pounds not pence. I’ve earmarked the end of calendar year 2022 as the most likely date by which we’ll have some M&A action. By then it will be clear that:

  1. I’m not making this stuff up.
  2. Aviation is another cash cow
  3. VR headsets/mobile phones is a likely growth area for its tech. For instance, its technology seems perfect for the next iteration of the Microsoft Hololens, which only has rudimentary eye-tracking.

The exact timing of any offer depends, of course, on contract announcements and broker upgrades as companies generally prefer de-risked investments. Still, by the end of this year I expect Seeing Machines’ auto division to be almost totally de-risked.

At this point, I want to put in a plea for Seeing Machines to engage Morgan Stanley as a broker and to ensure Adam Jonas is the analyst covering it. It is a plea I’ve made directly to the company in the past and now is certainly the time to consider it seriously. 

SEE is a global leader in one of the hottest areas in tech. Waymo brags about full autonomy but in scale that is decades away. Long before then Seeing Machines tech is going to be in hundreds of millions of cars.

It therefore needs huge coverage in the US, where they naturally think big and fully value a successful global tech company. Who better than Adam Jonas to serve SEE up to the investment world?

Price

Speculating on price is a mug’s game. But then I’ve been labelled a mug multiple times for holding SEE for so many years. So here goes:

Personally, I think £1 is achievable in the next 12 months, provided:

  • VW/Toyota contracts are announced before the end of 2021
  • Someone admits we’re in Honda, courtesy of GM
  • Qualcomm reveal more about our wins together in auto
  • Volvo win is announced (Okay, I just put that in because I crave validation)
  • We get at least one firm aviation licence deal
  • We get Morgan Stanley (more importantly, Adam Jonas) on board

It could be a lot more by this time next year, if:

We get confirmation that our tech is being factory fitted to trucks

We get confirmation that Microsoft is putting our tech into the HoloLens headset

We get confirmation that Apple/Tesla is using us

An aviation license deal provides significant up front payments

If a bidding war were then to kick off, well it could even stretch to an Ayrton Senna. However, I’m sure a certain chip manufacturer or some Private Equity firm laden with dry powder won’t want a bidding war.

Soon, the institutional holders will have to decide: do they want a pound in the hand or a tenner in the bush?

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

Battle of the Titans draws ever closer

I’m glad to finally get confirmation from Seeing Machines that the Mercedes S Class contains its driver monitoring system. Especially, as this website was the first to reveal this 4 years ago. The additional models announced today are all good news too.

Okay, we all know about NDAs and lead times in the auto industry by now but, as the deadline for mandatory DMS in Europe nears, SEE is clearly benefitting from a rush for its tech from OEMs.

The good news is that there is a growing pipeline of auto wins that I expect over the next 6 months,  My firm view is that Seeing Machines will (eventually) be in a position to announce wins with VW (and Audi), Toyota, Honda, Subaru, Volvo etc. etc.

Seeing Machines has effectively crushed the opposition and with the help of Qualcomm and Xilinx is scaling up its auto operations beyond the expectations of many.

It’s also making huge strides in getting its technology into the real world via Fleet and Aviation. More on that in due course.

My view is that overall it’s heading for A$1bn+ turnover by 2025. Of course, until the news is ‘official’ and house brokers have put the numbers out, there will be justifiable scepticism. Still, the exact number is less important than the massive revenue and profit acceleration path it is forging. That is now becoming increasingly clear to a host of sweet-toothed companies that would love to acquire a de-risked jam factory.

That is why I expect there to be a massive battle to acquire SEE well before 2025. By late 2022, early 2023, I reckon.

The leading runners and riders will doubtless include some or all of the following:

Expect at least one left field bidder, who could even start the auction off with an opportunistic bid.

As to the price? Well, my minimum is £1 a share. My maximum is £4 by 2023.

A warning: I could be completely wrong. After all, maybe it really was blind luck that I guessed about the Mercedes S Class back in 2017. Moreover, circumstances and stock markets can change quite rapidly, defying conclusions based on fairly accurate analysis.

If you’re in two minds about this you have to ask yourself one question: “Do you feel lucky?”

“Well do you punk?”  (2m 11sec)

In any case, do your own research before investing.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

 

 

 

 

 

Why Seeing Machines is grossly undervalued

Long term holders of Seeing Machines are well aware that it is the global leader in Driver/Occupant Monitoring and seems set to take a 60-75%, chunk of the automotive market driver/occupant monitoring by 2026.

Now estimates of the size of the light vehicle automotive market by this date do differ but not hugely. IHS estimates 110m light vehicles will be sold annually by 2026. Cenkos estimates 112m and a penetration rate for DMS of 67%, with Seeing Machines estimated to win 38% market share in calendar year 2026 producing an annual revenue figure of A$248m from auto alone. (You can see this information on Page 8 of its note issued on 2 February 2021).

Cenkos has a price target of 16p, which certainly appears miserly given the massive revenues that are coming further down the line. The reason for this is two-fold:

  • Firstly, Cenkos has applied a discount rate of 11.5% on its future guaranteed cash flows from vehicles in which Seeing Machines’ DMS and OMS is to appear.
  • Secondly, Cenkios can’t provide figures for RFQs that are expected to be won this year and the cars in which it will appear with Qualcomm. That’s fair enough although Cenkos has admitted that the figures against contracts already signed are minimum amounts and quite likely to increase at least 3 times.

Discount rate to fall

This year, as auto contracts are won – and they will be won – I’d expect a double whammy to significantly increase the Cenkos target price as future guaranteed revenues rise and its discount rate falls.

I’d argue that even now a discount rate of 7% based purely on the conservative (how I dislike that word) figures from Cenkos would be more appropriate given the quantum of risk. Were that to be applied, the price target from Cenkos would be nearer 40p right now.

[For the purposes of simplicity I’ve ignored the accelerating revenues from its driver monitoring as a service Guardian products that feature in trucks. I’ve also ignored its products in aviation — though, they’re expected to be very significant in time.]

Despite the po-faced analytical rigour adopted by many analysts  when discussing equity risk premiums it’s hardly an exact science, more of an art.  The disparate factors you need to take into account are the stuff of which academic careers are made. And anyone who doubts the complexity in modelling them should read this paper by Aswath Damodaran.

Conclusion

What I’m trying to convey is that Seeing Machines is grossly undervalued currently and, though I expect it to hit 40p this year as Cenkos ups its price target due to increased future auto revenues and a reduced risk rate, I don’t expect it to hit fair value even then.

Only when people realise Seeing Machines’ market share is going to be in the 60%-75% region and that it is likely to be bought for many billions as Mobileye was (US$15.3bn), will Seeing Machines price come close to matching its intrinsic value.

My guess is that uninformed observers will wonder in awe as Seeing Machines’ share price accelerates over the coming 12 months. My view is that it’s all very predictable if only you’d conducted sufficient research.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

Fisker set to use occupant monitoring from Seeing Machines in A$7m deal

It seems that US electric vehicle start-up Fisker is set to use Seeing Machines combined driver and occupant monitoring system in its innovative Ocean electric SUV, with Magna as the Tier 1.

The vehicles goes into production in 2022 but Seeing Machines should get near term Non-Recurring Engineering revenues according to house broker Cenkos, which reiterates its 16p price target.

The deal is officially worth A$7m but, as we know from experience, these contracts have a habit of growing as additional models are launched. Hence, A$7m is very much an ‘initial’ and conservative estimate of its real worth.

It’s good news for Seeing Machines as the vehicle is set to be very popular and already has over 14,000 pre-orders. More importantly for Seeing Machines it further demonstrates its global leadership in the DMS and OMS space as it bags its 7th Tier 1 auto supplier.

Nick DiFiore, SVP and GM Automotive commented: “We are delighted to expand our customer base with such a globally capable Tier 1 supplying a highly innovative OEM. I expect this to be the first of many collaboration opportunities as we together target new business across the fast expanding interior monitoring market.

“Having articulated our detailed embedded product strategy late last year and launched our OMS roadmap soon after that, receiving this order affirms both our strategic and technology direction, and our continued leadership position in the DMS market.”

However, investors are really awaiting official announcement of wins with the likes of Toyota and Honda before popping open their magnums of Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée Brut magnum.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

 

 

 

 

 

Has Airbus consortium won Aussie contract?

I woke up this morning with a hunch, luckily nothing to do with an uncomfortable mattress, due to my subconscious putting together a jigsaw puzzle that I wasn’t aware I was even attempting to construct.

I’m wondering if the next piece of news that Seeing Machines will announce is that the Airbus-led consortium, to which it belongs, has been chosen to deliver a fleet of specially adapted H145M attack helicopters to the Aussie Special Forces.

If true, It’s not earth-shattering news but would further validate the importance of its pilot monitoring technology in the aviation sector.

In time, this technology may feature in flying cars and also spacecraft. All, additional reasons why the Battle of the Titans, may be kicked off by a bid from either Qualcomm or Intel in order to dominate the automotive space.

Quite aside from the prospects of a bumper pay-day for investors, the sheer long-term potential of Seeing Machines’ technology excites me.

Personally, I’d love to read an interview with one of the founders of Seeing Machines, Tim Edwards. As one of the visionaries behind the company he is probably best suited to explain how  eventually giving robots the ability to recognise and understand human emotions is going to change our world forever. It would be quite something if he eventually shared his insights in an article or, better still, a book.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines

Seeing Machines bags Nio

At the Qualcomm shindig last week, it was fascinating to learn that 20 automakers have selected Snapdragon automotive cockpit, gen 3, particularly as I believe most, if not all, of them will have Seeing Machines DMS integrated into it.

I’m sure that one of them is the Nio ET7, the Chinese would be Tesla killer. You don’t have to be much of a detective to work it out as the clues are all within an easy Google. Nio is signed up with Qualcomm and has an enhanced DMS. Hmmmm does anyone know a supplier of advanced DMS that is working with Qualcomm? Answers on a postcard, please.

Fortunately, Qualcomm also supplied a photo clue last week.

Screenshot 2021-01-26 at 15.44.20

I certainly would not rule out a Qualcomm bid for Seeing Machines in the future. Its technology has applications in markets far beyond automotive that Qualcomm would love to dominate. The more Seeing Machines impresses Qualcomm (and it got a lot of respect last week), the more likely it is to want to snap it up on the cheap. Keep watching.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

Are Qualcomm and SEE climbing the Great Wall?

It appears the share price of Seeing Machines is continuing to climb in anticipation of some big announcements from Qualcomm next week.

It would appear very likely that Seeing Machines via Qualcomm has made very big strides in China.  In addition, I came across some interesting news from Japan. Here are two snippets that may hold the key to the rise.

The first is news of Great Wall Motor in China. The second is news of Japanese OEM Honda installing DMS.

I don’t have definitive proof of either but I expect more good news very soon.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

 

 

Wameja low-ball takeover by Mastercard

Well done holders of Wameja who held onto this stock and who have received a bid from Mastercard, albeit at a very low-ball price of 8p, well short of its 20p valuation from FinnCap. That is the price of holding only a minority interest, I guess.

Holders should hold on for the time being for 2 reasons:

  • 1) They won’t lose 0.5p a share as the offer price from market makers is currently 7.5p,
  • 2)  I noted the wording in the RNS today: “In the absence of a superior proposal” the bid has been accepted. There may be a slim chance Visa could come in to frustrate the process and set off a bidding war.

I hope long term holders of WJA as well as readers of my blog made some money out of this  stock, as Wameja was mentioned on Safestocks as a takeover play. However, it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge that FinnCap analyst Lorne Daniel put me onto it with his excellent analysis.

Lessons for Seeing Machines

There are lessons from this for private investors (and even management) in Seeing Machines, I believe.

Firstly, Lombard Odier, which holds 23.45% has accepted the Wameja offer. I do hope Seeing Machines is eventually taken out at a healthier premium. However, at its current price it remains vulnerable, particularly as Lombard Odier, via Volantis 1798, holds a jumbo 19.9%.

This also has lessons for holders of any share; there is an opportunity cost for holding a stock for years and years in the hope of a bumper pay day.

The writer holds stock in Wameja and Seeing Machines.

 

Marketing masterstroke milks MOU

Seeing Machines managed to raise its share price today with a masterstroke of marketing; a fluffy RNS that while looking lovely on the surface had very little in terms of actual content.

Said creation mentioned a memorandum of understanding (MOU) but provided few details as to the ‘global semiconductor company’ it was with, and no indication as to the the likely timeframe for any eventual deal nor any mention of the likely monetary value (even a range would have done) of an eventual contract.

Call me a cynic (I’m actually a realist) but when after umpteen yearly fundraises, never-ending RFQs, imminent aviation contracts that have yet to materialise, missing train contracts and umpteen launches (e.g. BDMS) and partnerships (Mix Telematics and Progress Rail) that vanish into the ether, I feel I’ve paid the high admission fee charged by the Realist Investing Club.

To be fair, I’ve witnessed a lot of shenanigans from a wide variety of stocks over the years. Possibly it has left me bitter and twisted. Moreover, most of the instances quoted above pre-date the present senior management of Seeing Machines.

I love See’s tech (as much as I understand it – that is a joke for you tech geeks out there) but am sadly cursed by an inability to sacrifice my journalist sensibilities in the pursuit of profit. Nuts, eh?

Why MOU now?

What perplexes me is this: why mention a MOU now, yet provide no details as to the party it is with, nor indicate the likely size of the eventual contract and a date by which it is likely to be signed?

Perhaps it is super smart marketing, big tease before delivering the details. If the contract is signed soon, great: get a double share price rise from one contract. I will be happy to have my lingering fears dispelled as I watch the share price rise and count my profits. 

Yet, if this proves to be part of a well-planned, pump and fundraise operation I (and many PIs) will be sorely tempted to do an El Jefe and scream: “Bring me the head of Paul McGlone” — while berating its nomad Cenkos for allowing such an RNS to be released.

In short, I’d have preferred an RNS that announced an actual contract/license deal with a monetary value attached (even a vague value range). This would have enabled the share price to sail past 5p, particularly if it put to bed any need for a further fundraise. For the record, I’d certainly not be keen to see an eventual contract announced in a month or two alongside a fundraise, in classic AIM style.

I’m saying this publicly as I hope Seeing Machines responds by soon putting my fears to rest. I want greater transparency. I want further details of this MOU. Better still, quickly provide an RNS that gives something more solid: details of a contract worth millions.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines