I'll never forget the dot-com boom. It was an unbelievable time to be involved in the financial markets. Tiny companies with only a dream and a sketchy business plan were able to raise millions if their name included the dot-com suffix.
Things became so crazy that a close friend confided to me that he felt embarrassed to be making so much money in such a quick and easy fashion by getting in on Internet IPOs. Once a hyped Internet company's stock debuted, shares would often move 2 to 5 points higher. If you were investing during this time, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
The Internet has truly revolutionized the way we live. Not only has it enriched investors untold amounts, but it has empowered everyone in ways never thought possible.
If you missed out on the lucrative Internet revolution, a second revolution has started to emerge. This revolution will dwarf the first one in terms of magnitude, personal impact -- and investment potential.
Now, I am not talking about a new company with a new unproven technology like was seen during the first revolution. This isn't something like the overhyped Segway transporter or a new way to sell pet food. This revolution will be built on the backs of established technology companies that have already started to develop tools and techniques to exploit the pending sea change.
In fact, many people are already using rudimentary aspects of the world-changing technological shift. The first Internet revolution connected billions of people to one another through social networks. It provided easy access to knowledge and products that had been previously nearly inaccessible.
The pending revolution will connect everything on the planet. Now, before you think I have lost my mind by watching too much "X-Files" or "Star Trek," let me explain.
Many of you have experienced the first ripples of this revolution. Some of you even use it on a daily basis. Prime examples include the E-ZPass for toll roads, ATMs and gas pumps. These tools are all connected to the Internet through machine-to-machine interfaces.
Soon, nearly everything will be connected. This revolution is called the "Internet of Everything," or IoE for short. It is forecast to produce profits of $613 billion in 2013 and has the potential to become a $14 trillion market.
It is estimated that by 2020, 50 billion connections will exist between everyday objects, people, and devices. The Internet of everything will connect everything from digital remote health monitoring to smart factories and virtual assistants.
Everyday objects will be able to "talk" to keep owners informed and up to date. For example, imagine running low on milk. A throwaway tag will sense this fact and automatically place an order using your virtual assistant to deliver another gallon to your refrigerator.
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|The Internet of Everything is truly a world-changing revolution that will forever alter the way we live, work and play.
The potential is mind-blowing. The Internet of Everything is truly a world-changing revolution that will forever alter the way we live, work and play.
Sounds fascinating, but how can we profit?
The No. 1 company on the forefront of designing and profiting from this trend is Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO).
The company is developing routing technologies to help manage this revolution. It's a high-end routing device consisting of 1.5 million lines of code and 4 billion transistors and is expected to cost $250 million. This application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) will create the technology needed for the Internet of Everything to become a reality. Cisco developers expect this chip to be available by the end of this year.
In addition, Cisco's Insieme Networks is working on the convergence of switching, routing, storage and computing on a common platform. The purpose of this device is that it allows the architecture to spread to the edge of the network providing the brains to the Internet of Everything.
A look at the financial health of the company shows Cisco reported decent results for the fourth quarter of its 2013 fiscal year. Earnings per share (EPS) increased by 11% year over year, to $0.52 a share, while revenue followed suit with a 6% gain.
"Our fourth quarter was a record on many fronts with record revenue, and record non-GAAP income, net income and EPS. We also generated $4 billion in operating cash flow, another record," Cisco CEO John Chambers said.
While things appear to be strong, the company just announced it is slashing of 4,000 jobs (5% of its workforce) in a cost-reduction effort. In addition, 2014 guidance was in line with analysts' expectations, but certainly nothing to get excited about.
Taking a technical look, shares have pulled back from hitting resistance at the high of $26.50. Price broke through the 50-day simple moving average on the downside and may find support in the $23 range. The 200-day simple moving average in the $22 area is the next solid technical support level.
Risks to Consider: The Internet of Everything is an exciting idea, and Cisco appears to be the company best poised to profit from its growth. However, it remains unclear how consumers, businesses and governments will accept the concept at the projected scope. In addition, all the standard stock market risks are in play despite the huge projections. Always use stops and position size correctly when investing.
Action to Take --> The recent lackluster projections by Cisco has knocked the shares down into my value buy zone. Buying now, with a stop at $23 with a 12-month target of $33, makes solid sense right now. Investors interested in the Internet of everything should also look at General Electric (NYSE: GE) as an alternative way to profit in this space.