Bright Future for Nanotechnology

09/25/2002 12:00 am EST

Focus:

Josh Wolfe

Editor, Forbes/Wolfe Emerging Tech Report

Computer technology designed on a molecular level? While it may sound like science fiction, many consider the emerging field of nanotechnology to be where biotechnology was a decade ago. My introduction to this fascinating field came during a seminar given at The San Francisco Money Show by Josh Wolfe, editor of the Forbes/Wolfe Nanotech Report. This is a sophisticated market for long-term investors. With that in mind, it is one of the most intriguing markets I have ever seen, and the Nanotech Report is one of the most exciting newsletters I have read. Here are some comments from industry expert Josh Wolfe.

“I see nanotechnology showing early signs of promise. We know from past experience that government funding for science and technology eventually creates a pattern wherein new ventures spring up and some of them prosper. Just as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency funding fueled the growth of the Internet and the National Institutes of Health advanced the biotechnology industry, I anticipate that the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) will yield a similar commercialization path for nanotech. The government is, in effect, plowing the field wherein private enterprise will sow the seeds.” 

“In January 2001, President Clinton introduced the NNI. What has transpired since is astounding. The NNI will be the most significant US government-funded science project since the space program. It was a nonpartisan venture: one of the  Initiative’s backers was Newt Gingrich, the Repubilcan Speaker of the House at the time. Gingrich is now co-chairman of the NanoBusiness Alliance, which I co-founded. From his car phone, Gingrich tells me:  ‘Those countries that master the process of nanoscale manufacturing and engineering will have a huge job boom over the next 20 years, just like aviation and computing companies in the last 40 years, and just as railroad, steam engine, and textile companies were decisive in the 19th century. Nanoscale science will give us not dozens, not scores, not hundreds, but thousands of new capabilities in biology, physics, chemistry, and computing.’”

Because of the very long-term nature of this field, the following stocks should not be considered as typical buy recommendation. However, for those interest in exploring investment opportunities in this sector, Wolfe offers the following comments on several stocks involved in the “nanosphere”:

“We feel strongly about IBM (IBM NYSE), a blue-chip long-term value play, because of its ever-growing exposure to nanotech. The company is involved in nanoscale storage and nanotube transistors.

Veeco (VECO OTC) is involved in atomic force microscopes. The stock has edged down due to the continued concern about the health of the semiconductor and chip equipment industry. The Philadelphia Semiconductor Index has dropped to its lowest level since December 1998. Veeco, however, has continued to grow its nanotech franchise, establishing a Nanotechnology Center facility in Beijing, China.”

Accelrys/Pharmacopeia (PCOP NASDAQ) is involved in molecular rendering and analysis software. The company announced a licensing agreement and technology alliance with Agilent for 3-D visualization of molecular structures. The new computer modeling technology will enable scientists to accelerate the drug development process. Because of its dominant market position and underpriced shares, PCOP is still one of the best ways to play the explosion of funding for nanotech research infrastructure.”

Harris & Harris (TINY NASDAQ) is involved in non-volatile RAM, drug delivery, and nano-optics. Trading at roughly an 18% discount to  its Net Asset Value, we think TINY is worth a close second look at this level.”

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