All-in-One Stop for Robotics

07/30/2014 7:00 am EST

Focus: ETFs

Tyler Laundon

Editor, Cabot Small-Cap Confidential

Robots are now commonplace in manufacturing, defense and military, medical and healthcare industries, and even in the home, observes Tyler Laundon in Daily Profit.

The technology has become practical, purposeful, cost-effective, and most important, increasingly popular across a number of key sectors.
 
Cars can roll off the assembly line more quickly and cheaply with the help of robotic welders, fitters, and movers. And candy factories don't have to rely on workers like Lucy and Ethel to keep up with conveyer belts to individually wrap chocolates.
 
Robotics can keep first responders and military personnel out of harm's way, too. Last year, firefighters in the Sierra Nevada used a drone—operated by the California National Guard—that was piloted from miles away.
 
Another example is the use of robots by SWAT teams to search a crime scene for dangerous persons or explosives. There's even one that's small enough to fit into a 4-inch diameter pipe in a sewer system to detect leaks.
 
Perhaps the most inspiring application for robotics involves healthcare. The development of robotic prosthetics has allowed amputees with carbon fiber legs to run marathons and quadriplegics to maneuver wheelchairs with their minds.

And, in many cases, robotic surgery is less painful, easier to recover from, and causes less stress on the body than traditional methods.
 
Finally, at-home robotics that can mop and vacuum floors, mix cocktails, prepare food, and many other chores that make life a little easier are now widely available and reasonably priced.
 
Clearly, there are a lot of applications for robots. And the uses are expanding exponentially. And last year, the NASDAQ welcomed the first-ever exchange-traded fund index based on robotics-related stocks.
 
The Robo-Stox Global Robotics and Automation Index ETF (ROBO) includes nearly 80 different robotics-related stocks from around the world.
 
You likely haven't heard of many stocks in the fund, especially those in the Asia-Pacific region. But you can get all of these foreign stocks in one shot, along with ROBO's better-known US companies, which include 3D Systems (DDD) and Aerovironment (AVAV).
 
ROBO is a great place to dig deeper for individual robotics-related stocks, especially since I'm comfortable buying established foreign companies that are traded over the counter, like FANUC (FANUY). But if you're looking for an all-in-one general robotics play with diversity, look no further than ROBO.

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