Aerovironment: The Future of Drones

09/07/2017 2:50 am EST

Focus: INDUSTRIALS

Tony Daltorio

Editor, Investors Alley Premium Digest

Until now people have looked at drones in one of two ways — either as a toy buzzing around a park or as a weapon, dealing destruction from the sky, notes Tony Daltorio, technology and growth stock expert and editor at Investors Alley.


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The good news is that, finally, a space in the middle—commercial applications, is beginning to grow. For example, drones have tremendous potential to become a crucial part of other technological advancements.

Drones can gather all sorts of data for farmers on the state of their crop, the dryness of the soil, or whether something must be done to control pests. This data will help farmers grow more food to help feed a growing world population, while saving money on water, fertilizer and pesticides.

Aerovironment (AVAV), which manufactures drones for both the commercial and military markets. It was founded in 1971 by Paul Maccready, the inventor of the Gossamer Condor, the first human-powered aircraft capable of controlled and sustained flight.

It is the largest supplier of drones to the Pentagon with drones like the Raven (the most widely-used unmanned aircraft in the world today), the Puma AE, the Wasp AE, the Snipe and the Switchblade. The U.S. government accounts for 71% of the company’s revenues.

On the commercial side, Aerovironment offers the Quantix (packed with AI) for use in aerial inspections, mapping, etc. Besides agriculture, other industries that may make use of the Quantix are: mining, energy, communications as well as local police forces.

The company is also moving into another business. Its electric transportation solutions include a suite of electric vehicle charging systems and installation services for consumers, automakers, utilities and governments.

Aerovironment’s stock, after years of being a market laggard, has awoken this year, rising nearly 45% year-to-date to about $39 a share.

If the seminal research report by PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2016 is even close to right, there’s a lot more to come for AVAV.  The report said the worldwide commercial market for drones, worth about $2 billion last year, would soar to as much as $127 billion by the end of the decade. That’s the kind of exponential growth investors dream about.

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