Seeing Machines set to become cash flow positive in FY2025

In an exclusive interview with Safestocks, Stifel technology analyst Peter McNally has confirmed that his view is that Seeing Machines does not require a fundraise and is set to become cashflow positive, on a monthly basis, in the 2025 financial year (FY2025).

Peter McNally, took over coverage of Seeing Machines at Stifel (house analyst) five months ago but he has known the company for a number of years. I think his insights will prove invaluable. I’m presenting my questions and Peter McNally’s answers in a Q&A format to preserve the integrity of his answers.

Q&A with Peter McNally

Q. Regarding the H1 2024 Trading Update & Quarterly KPIs, what was your view?

Firstly, the KPIs look good to me. They are the only company out there that is actually doing any normal KPIs and providing transparency. The cars on the road number at 1.5m is a great milestone to reach. We know it is just the beginning. The numbers themselves look very healthy, we’re not changing estimates or anything like that.

What we saw was that everything is in line. We wondered if the headline number of 5% growth was going to dissuade any folks. We tried to call out on our note that they are not making excuses for themselves by stating that the underlying growth is 28%, if you take out that Magna exclusivity licence. It is actually quite valid because that 28% growth is more around royalties, boxes, monitored connections and that license really is kind of a one-off.

That was 28% growth in the first half. Based on our estimates, to hit the full year numbers they have to move from US$26.5m in the first half to US$40m in the second half. That sounds like a big number but for them it is actually not. Typically, the company revenues are 40% first half weighted and 60% second half weighted — to get to our number assumes 61% weighting in the second half. That is pretty much in line with typical seasonality. You also have to keep in mind that you have some sales that were done of the Gen 3 Guardian product on the back of CES and, as regulatory deadlines approach, there will be demand for more services. 

Their existing launches are still ramping, so we think that is good news. If you were to do it on a like-for-like basis, it assumes the second half grows at 20% and they just did 28% in the first half. So we’re pretty comfortable with it.

Regarding the cash position, we’re also comfortable with that given that we expect a $14m increase in revenues in the second half while the costs are virtually the same. There is about $1m increase between this year’s costs and last year’s costs, and I am talking cash cost not just income statement costs. 

The cash costs for this business in FY2024 are, in my estimates, only about $1m more  than they are in 2023 but revenue rises by $7.9m. The company hasn’t cut its cost structure by much, it’s just that the revenues are coming through. That is what reduces the cash burn down to a very low level, along with $5.5m of receivables and inventory unwind in the second half. They are saying somewhere between $5-6m.

Q. So there is no reason for a raise this calendar year?

A. There is no reason for a raise at all, so far as I can see. Unless they wanted to. They are on track to be profitable next year. It’s not a shoo in, they’ve certainly got their work cut out for them. It all looks like it’s going to plan, so we’re not worried.

Q. When exactly do you expect Seeing Machines to be cash flow positive?

A. Our estimates assume that on an operational basis in FY2025 they will do operating cash flow of just over $21m but we think they will spend about that amount on capitalisation and hardware as well. We have a small net cash outflow of about US$1m for FY2025. However, on a monthly run-rate basis, they will become cash flow positive during fiscal 2025, but we haven’t put out the exact month.

Q. Is there a likelihood that they might want to make an acquisition? For instance, to add more features to their auto offering?

A. I would say that at the moment they are 100% focused on the business that they have at hand. That doesn’t mean that they are not opportunistic. If something were to come up I’m sure they would have a look at it. But I don’t think acquisitions are on the radar screen at the moment. Maybe they might be, further down the line. Could it be some form of geographical expansion, I think that’s possible. 

In terms of features they are in the driving seat. They are the one who is developing the features in the marketplace. I don’t think they need to buy in any features, I think they can develop them themselves. If there’s a short cut to development time that’s always a consideration, but I don’t think that’s in their mind at the moment.

Q. In terms of a US listing I hear a lot of chatter. However, if they do decide to go down that path isn’t it much further down the line, say 18 months to 2 years away?

A. There are many people who have suggested a US listing at some stage. Will they do it? I don’t know. I guess they could consider it but I think they have a lot of ground to cover before they would consider something like that. I think they are focused on making this business work right now rather than another listing.

Two years from now they might be in a very comfortable position, where the royalties are just rolling in. If they were to consider a US listing I think it is much further down the line.

The writer holds shares in Seeing Machines.

Lexus DMS found wanting by Euro NCAP

Toyota’s luxury brand Lexus recently had its DMS tested by Euro NCAP and got a miserable 0.3 out of 2 points. The vehicle in question was the 2023 Lexus RZ

It must have come as a huge shock to Toyota, which is struggling like Tesla to deal with the influx of quality Chinese cars. I understand that Woven (not Smart Eye) was the supplier.

It’s actually a huge positive for Seeing Machines and I’m feeling pretty confident that Toyota will do the sensible thing and find itself a supplier that can deliver maximum points from the Euro Cap DMS test. I certainly don’t expect it to choose Smart Eye, by the way.

I’m also hearing that Volvo may be experiencing buyer’s remorse for its choice of DMS. Let’s wait and see what happens there.

While the share price of Seeing Machines is an annoyance, I’m increasingly confident that the couple of auto wins predicted by Paul McGlone will come to fruition by the end of the first quarter of 2024. He delivered on Gen 3 Guardian and I can only reiterate my belief that all the auto contract delays have been due to the OEMs.

The writer holds stock in Seeing Machines.

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.

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.

Tactical move widens Seeing Machines’ moat

I think the Devant collaboration announced on the 20th June is a tactical move to widen Seeing Machines’ (AIM: SEE) moat. The data derived from real-life driver experience, known as its ‘river of gold’ has hitherto protected its AI-fuelled technological lead. Now it will be augmented by a sea of computer-generated edge cases from Devant, a specialist in synthetic data generation who is focused on the niche area of in-cabin monitoring. 

This should help Seeing Machines speed up the development of DMS and future in-cabin monitoring applications that are being demanded by the industry and regulators, putting Seeing Machines even further ahead of its competitors.

Far from an admission of weakness, this move demonstrates that Seeing Machines is doing all it can to maintain its leadership position — without breaking the bank. I don’t envisage any competitor overtaking SEE within the next 3 years. Indeed, part of me wonders if we might not end up acquiring Smart Eye or Cipia eventually. However, I’m betting Seeing Machines gets acquired within 2 years.

Auto RFQ delays 

I appreciate the lack of auto OEM contract wins being announced has rattled many of us. I think it is entirely down to OEMs waiting until the last possible moment to decide how sophisticated a DMS/OMS to use, in the light of tighter EuroNCAP regulations that are coming into force in 2026 but which still haven’t been totally tied down.

This has been confirmed to me following conversations with people at EuroNCAP — sadly, I find myself curiously unable to obtain basic information from official SEE channels following scoops that have upset some people. (But, like a would-be lover suffering from unrequited love, I am still fully invested in this brilliant company).

Q&A Euro NCAP

Here’s a brief Q&A with Euro NCAP:

I understand that the EuroNCAP 2025 protocols aren’t yet out. Can you tell me:

Q. When do you expect them to be published? 

A.  2026.

Q. What exactly is the process for their iteration and publication? Is a draft put around to the industry players for comment? If so, at what stage are they currently?

A. Currently under development, discussing the new requirements and test provisions alongside industry. 

Q. Have they been delayed, if so why?

A. Initially considered for 2025, we finally decided to switch to a 3-year cycle, so starting their implementation from 2026. This was to allow sufficient development timing for protocol development and giving industry sufficient headroom for technology adoption.

Q. What provisions regarding driver monitoring are they likely to include and how advanced are they likely to be? (I know there is a roadmap but I’m not sure about the precise details of it and how it applies to driver monitoring).

A.

  • Driving under influence (2026)
  • Optimised passive restraint systems based on occupant posture and/or size (2026)
  • Increased requirements for the precision of determination on non-reversible driver states e.g., drowsiness, unresponsive driver / sudden sickness (2026)
  • Specific provisions for Assisted and automated driving (2026)
  • Link of driver state to the way ADAS functions are tested and assessed e.g., FCW/LDW sensitivity (2026)
  • Cognitive distraction / mind wandering (2029/2032)

The writer holds stock in SEE.