With the full commercialization of Google Glass on the horizon we can expect Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) wearable interface to again be a hot topic at South by Southwest (SXSW) 2014. Since the Austin conference is intentionally structured to facilitate the convergence of film and interactive technology, the prospect of commercial Augmented Reality (AR) platforms is quite apropos. The conference is without a doubt the most hip tech gathering going as brands, marketers, entrepreneurs and executives scour the conference looking to find the future of technology. Think Burning Man meets Sundance meets TED. All of this interest in one place is helping the companies that are poised to capitalize on the Google Glass release as well as the publicity surrounding the virtues of augmented reality technology. Three of these companies are at the top of the list and include the following:
Himax Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:HIMX), the semiconductor-maker which is producing liquid crystal displays for the new Google Glass device, currently trades at $13.38. The company also designs, develops, and markets semiconductors for flat panel displays, which provides roughly 84% of the company's revenue. Himax's augmented reality relationship began when the company agreed to Google's minority investment in a subsidiary in the company's subsidiary, Himax Display, which fabricates the Liquid Crystal on Silicon chips and modules necessary for the deployment of Google Glass' head-mounted display.
The company's stock currently has a dividend yield of 1.7%, and a PE ratio of 35.7. The average volume for Himax has been 7.9 million shares per day over the past 30 days. The company has a market cap of $2.4 billion, and its revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 9.7%, and since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 1.3%. The company has improved earnings per share by 16.7% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago, and has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. During the past fiscal year, Himax increased its bottom line by earning $0.30 versus $0.06 in the prior year.
Himax's net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has exceeded that of the S&P 500 and greatly outperformed compared to the Semiconductors & Semiconductor Equipment industry average with the net income increasing by 17.9% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $10.41 million to $12.27 million. I believe Himax should be included as one of these three great augmented reality technology stocks to own.
Glu Mobile Inc., (NASDAQ:GLUU) formerly known as Sorrent, Inc. develops and publishes a portfolio of action/adventure and casual games for the users of smartphones and tablet devices. This stock has been outperforming competitors and is up 70% in the past 12 month. The company releases its video games internationally via multiple platforms including iOS, Android, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Windows Phone and Google Chrome. Embodying the "freemium" model, games created by Glu are typically free to play; however, the company generates revenue through in-game micro-transactions consisting of $1.99 or less. Glu develops games based on its own brands, including Blood & Glory, Big Time Gangsta, Contract Killer, Samurai vs. Zombies Defense, and Stardom, as well as third-party licensed brands.
Glu Mobile sells its products through direct-to-consumer digital storefronts and is the only publicly traded mobile game company. Because in the US, users spend upwards of 12% of content viewing time on a mobile device, and the mobile gaming market is expected to grow at a rate of 35% annually, I see Glu as a great buy now. Currently trading at $4.16 per share, the company has a cash balance of about $27.7 million and no significant debt to speak of. It has a market cap of $325 million with annual revenue approaching $100 million. If the company remains on its path of timing great releases, the company expects in a year-over-year jump of 54%.
Organovo Holdings, Inc., (NYSEMKT:ONVO), is a leading company in the science of 3-D bioprinting, which uses "bio-ink," or living cell mixtures to form human tissue that is used to build a 3-D structure of cells, layer by layer, to form tissue. This relatively new technology termed, "the new industrial convergence," is the morphing of manufacturing and medicine and represents an opportunity at advanced medical developments. It uses cells from a moving printer head to place the cells in the correct location. The thought in the medical world is that this printed tissue can be used to make organs for organ replacement. Organovo Holdings is currently the leader in this innovative industry with its NovoGen MMX Bioprinter. The company is currently trading at $9.94 per share, the company had a 52-week average of between $3.27 and $13.65.
Organovo has shown promising results in a market and the company is well protected by patent portfolio. The company has roughly $50 million cash on hand with great access to more capital which allows the company to expand both organically and through acquisitions. One of the main advantages Organovo has over its competitors is its ability to provide more accuracy in its final production of 3-D models. The company's liver assays are nearly twice the thickness of competitors and can be printed with small lining of blood vessels, thereby making them a much better option for clinical testing than the presently available assays. Additionally, Organovo has generated 3-D printed livers which can last 700% longer than its previous 3-D printed liver, or for almost 40 days.
Finally, Organovo has grown primarily due to increase in institutional ownership, which is another good sign for investors. Because of the continued need for 3-D bioprinting, and the strength and growth of the company, I believe Organovo to be a buy now and one to hold onto for the long haul.
Augmented Reality Promises
The new, entertaining, and creative world of augmented reality is affecting several businesses in a positive way and opening opportunities for entertainment and educational ventures providing a new dimension for users. It is not just Google Glass and other wearable computers quickly coming to market, it is the existing businesses taking advantage of augmented reality technology that are creating an explosion in this high-tech field.
In the world of augmented reality software, Infinity Augmented Reality, Inc. (Infinity AR)(OTCQB:ALSO). provides the platform to connect Google's Android Glasses to an iPhone or iPad. The company also provides advanced facial, image, and mood recognition apps and recently signed an agreement with William Hill, one of Europe's largest online gaming companies, to provide the software to enhance the online gaming experience.
While other companies venturing into augmented reality, like Google, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) have market caps in the billions of dollars, Infinity AR trades at less than 50 cents and I would consider it a speculative stock with plenty of reward accompanied by plenty of risk.
The touting of a particular company or stock at a trade show does not necessarily make that stock rise or cause great excitement for investors. But when an entire industry is praised for its future prospects and possibilities, investors should definitely take notice. The field of augmented reality technology isn't a gradual event, nor is it a passing fad. It is bursting onto the scene with companies such as the four listed above taking advantage of this technology providing services and products that are changing the world. Investors that get in now will be glad they did and will be giddy over the results.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.