Right now, we are living in very exciting times.
I'm sure many of you have parents or grandparents who witnessed some amazing events in their lifetimes.
Just think, in a little over a century we've seen the start of mass-produced automobiles, motion pictures, television, space flight, personal computers, tablets and cell phones and much more...
To be sure, those innovations and the investment returns that came along with them were incredible. The advent of the Internet alone has created more widespread wealth than the world has ever seen.
And today, the pace of innovation is accelerating. In fact, I believe we're at the beginning of what could be the most fertile era of innovation in human history. Over the next 10, 20, or 50 years we're going to see amazing developments that are sure to enrich investors beyond our wildest imaginations.
Over the past several months, I've been focusing on one industry in particular -- a sector that has been talked about for years in technology circles, but is just beginning to go from an idea into reality.
I'm talking about the next big breakthrough in technology -- Big Data's "Predictive Analytics." This is a relatively new phenomenon that holds amazing profit potential.
In recent years, major companies have made it their business to collect literally tons of information about you and me.
-- Every single hour, Walmart processes more than one million customer transactions. They are stored in databases estimated to contain 2.5 petabytes (2.5 million gigabytes) of data. In case you're wondering just how large that is, consider that all of this data would fill 167 times the number of books in the U.S. Library of Congress.
-- Facebook users alone have posted 50 billion photos on the site.
-- According to IDC, 1.8 zettabytes (1.8 trillion gigabytes) of consumer data was created in 2011 -- enough data to fill 57.5 billion 32-gigabyte iPads. And that number is going up.
This data is coming from every computer we own. And IMS Research predicts that by 2020, up to 22 billion embedded systems and other portable devices will be connected to the Internet and collecting more and more data.
In the past, most data was simply collected and stored. While some of it was used to program simple functions, like geolocation for your automobile or synching your iPhone and iPad -- the vast majority of it was just locked away.
But within the past few years, some very smart people decided that this trove of data just had to contain great information that could be harnessed and translated into revenue.
And that could lead to massive gains for investors who get in early on the pioneers of this revolution, as I'll show you in just a moment.
Utilizing sophisticated software running on thousands of servers in secretive facilities and powered by super-processing speeds and smarter chips, governments and corporations around the world are throwing money at this new approach to data mining.
They've discovered that by gathering the data and by looking for correlations, they have found patterns that can be used to predict future events and their potential outcomes. And the results have been startling, including:
-- Searching words in tweets on Twitter has resulted in accurate predictions of earthquakes, the movement of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and election outcomes
-- Scientists used Google search to forecast the exact location of an influenza outbreak
-- Mining keywords in pre-release critiques of movies has accurately predicted the success or failure of a film
-- Looking at economic data from hundreds of sources, some economists predicted deflation well ahead of the government's 2008 release affirming it
Companies are frothing at the mouth thinking of all the possibilities: precise ad placement to your target market so your ad dollars are never wasted; forecasting flight delays so air traffic can be rerouted without untimely delays; predicting which drugs may have deadly side effects; forecasting who will likely get breast cancer and who won't; knowing likely crime "hot spots" in advance -- the applications are infinite.
In short, the potential to make money from Big Data is tremendous. And I've found a handful of companies that look like the big winners -- the companies who stand to benefit the most from this new wave of technology.
They include established giants in their industries like Google who is investing heavily in this future prediction technology, as well as companies you've never heard of that are centers of innovation. Some are directly involved in producing and analyzing the data; others are end-users. And a few do both.
What's more, the companies behind these "prediction plants," as I call them, have already delivered impressive returns for investors. The first companies to open these plants have seen 10-year stock gains of 650%... 884%... and one is even up as much as 957% over that period.
But I don't think all the gains are behind them. Independent research firms are saying that these companies are in the early stages of a 5,000% growth phase that's expected to last until 2020. And many of these companies have growth catalysts that could double or triple their share prices in the next few years.
Many of them are well-established companies that pay generous dividends too. For example, in this month's issue of Five-Star Stocks, I provided detailed analysis on an investment firm that controls $4 trillion in investor assets (or an estimated 7% of the entire world's investments) that used its propriety financial prediction software to accurately anticipate the 2008 financial crisis months before it hit.
In helping to prevent losses for its clients, this company's technology has helped its stock grow 500% over the past decade. Meanwhile, the company has been using its large cash hoard to grow its dividend by a whopping 800% at the same time. Best of all, my analysis concludes the stock is trading at a 34% discount to what it's really worth right now.
You're going to be hearing a lot more about "Big Data" in the coming months and years, and simply put, it's going to change the way we live, work and invest. My advice: do your research and invest in these companies now before the rest of the crowd catches on.
If you want more details on the company I referenced in today's essay, along with seven others I expect will lead the way in "prediction analytics" technology and deliver big gains for investors, I recommend you watch this presentation. Remember, opportunities to invest in technological revolutions don't come around often, so the biggest gains will come to those who get in on these investments early.