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2 Transportation related Stocks leading the New Wave with AI

3AI February 25, 2021

Technology is changing our world, with results visible in real time. If you grew up in the 1980s, watching reruns of Star Trek, think for a moment about fantastic gadgets that have walked off the screen and into our lives: portable communicators, portable computers, voice-activated systems, to name just a few. Scotty once even automated the starship Enterprise, so that the ship could run with just five people on board.

We don’t have a Star Trek transporter, and quantum physics tells us that we probably won’t anytime soon, but autonomous technologies are changing the way we commute. Artificial intelligence systems – thinking computers, or AI – are coming into production and online, and making their mark across the whole range of the transportation experience. We are starting to see autonomous vehicles, and AI-powered support services on the roads they use.

With this in mind, we’ve used the TipRanks database to lock in on two transportation-related stocks that are deeply involved in AI technology. Both have earned some praise recently from 5-star analysts, who see a double-digit growth potential for each.

Cerence, Inc. (CRNC)

Cerence develops AI tech as the brain behind an autonomous vehicle system. The company’s technology focuses on voice activation, allowing the creation of ‘voice assistants’ for what Cerence describes as a ‘state-of-the-art in-car experience.’

While Cerence is applying voice recognition to automotive control systems, VR tech – and its connection to AI – has been around for some years. Cerence can boast that it has installed its AI-powered voice systems in over 325 million vehicles which are already on the road. And the company has over 1,400 patents – so there are plenty more ideas in the offing.

Cerence’s customers include names from across the automotive spectrum, from iconic Detroit stalwarts like Ford and GMC, to international names like Volkswagen, Toyota, and Hyundai. Cerence hasn’t avoided the newer names on the global automotive scene, either – India’s Tata Motors is a customer, as is China’s Great Wall.

Earlier this month, Cerence announced its 1Q21 results, and reported results above expectations for both revenues and earnings. At the top line, the $95 million reported was a 23% year-over-year gain – and a company record. EPS came in at a solid 59 cents per share, for a 103% yoy gain.

In addition to the strong earnings, CRNC shares have shown steady gains for the long haul. The stock is up an impressive 362% in the past 12 months.

Among the bulls is Needham’s 5-star analyst Rajvindra Gill, who has been following Cerence, and he is impressed.

“With a rebound in auto production after COVID-19 related shutdowns and Cerence’s continued success in gaining market share, Edge revenues, which are recognized on a per-unit-shipped basis, continue to rise. Management continues to see penetration rates increasing, regardless of what happens with short-term auto production,” Gill noted.

The analyst added, “Rolling out our 10-year model [and] extending our forecast from 2025 to 2030 as we increase our confidence in the company’s ability to execute and the recurring nature of its revenues. Our model forecasts revenue of $1.1B in 2030 and Free Cash Flow of $367M.”

To this end, Gill rates CRNC shares as a Buy, and his $155 price target indicates his confidence in ~26% upside for the year ahead. 

Among Gill’s colleagues, Apple has a Moderate Buy consensus rating, based on 5 Buys and 3 Holds. However, with an average price target of $124.38, the analysts think CRNC is liable to remain range bound for now.

Rekor Systems (REKR)

Maryland-based Rekor occupies an interesting niche, one that you probably don’t think of often – but one that will see huge gains from the application of AI tech. Rekor focuses on security solutions for traffic control, specifically license plate recognition but also automated payment systems that promise to revolutionize toll roads and restaurant drive-through windows.

Rekor bases its products on AI-powered recognition technology, or the ability of computer controlled cameras and sensors to spot and recognize individual vehicles in the flow of traffic. The volume of data is tremendous; AI is necessary for the systems to sort out the relevant vehicles.

Rekor uses an open software platform in its applications, and markets the know-how in a variety of niches, including the fast food and toll road industries mentioned above but also government transportation and public safety departments. When installed, several applications of Rekor’s AI system will help customers improve revenues, partly by increasing efficiency but also by allow rapid collection of tolls and fees.

Over the past 12 months, REKR shares have shown tremendous growth, appreciating 285%. Rekor’s revenues have grown along with the share value. The company’s last reported quarter, 3Q20, showed a 40% year-over-year increase in gross revenue, to $2.1 million. As of the end of Q3, the company had recorded $6.4 million in total sales for the year 2020, up 60% from the same time the year before.

5-star analyst Michael Latimore, of Northland Capital, describes Rekor’s expansionary potential as “multiple shots on goal.” Elaborating, he writes, “Oklahoma just launched its uninsured motorist program using Rekor’s technology this year, and that model is eminently repeatable in other, larger states. Texas just passed a bill out of committee authorizing such a program, and Florida is soon to follow. MasterCard is talking to multiple quick serve restaurants to deploy Rekor technology to improve the customer experience (by using license plate information to accelerate customer transactions). Tollways are looking to replace legacy RFID services with better and faster recognition.”

In line with these upbeat comments, Latimore rates the stock an Outperform (i.e. Buy), and sets a $24 price target that implies a one-year upside of ~44%. 

Rekor has only just started to attract notice from Wall Street, and there are only two reviews on record so far – but both are Buys. The average price target is $25, suggesting room for ~50% from the $16.67 trading price in the year ahead. 

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