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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: iRobot, Flex, ABB, Microsoft and JD.com

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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – February 24, 2021 – Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include: iRobot Corpooration (IRBT - Free Report) , Flex Ltd. (FLEX - Free Report) , ABB Ltd. (ABB - Free Report) , Microsoft Corporation (MSFT - Free Report) and JD.com, Inc. (JD - Free Report) .

Here are highlights from Tuesday’s Analyst Blog:

5 Stocks to Buy as A.I. Turns Robotics into Reality

The pandemic has no doubt accelerated the use of robotics beyond imagination, and an increasing number of robots are now being used in industrial settings. The recent rush to reduce carbon footprint has also boosted investment in modern robot technology. Advancement in artificial intelligence (AI) has also helped the robotics space make progress in all kinds of disciplines. From cleaning and collecting footage inside construction sites to analyzing data, assisting astronauts in space missions and more, AI has helped bring robotics to real life application.

Automation Across Industry Verticals

Social-distancing norms gave rise to the need for automation across industry verticals last year. However, the pandemic drove the robotics market, and the use of bots has no doubt helped manufacturers improve productivity, flexibility and security despite rise in wage expenses. AI-driven robots can master difficult tasks through computer vision and sensing systems. In fact, tasks like bin picking that required humans earlier can be now done effortlessly by bots.

Earlier, industrial robots dominated the automotive industry for assembly lines but the future lies in the hands of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs). These AMRs help in integration of the entire production line and with the integration of human-robot collaboration workstation, robots can now work hand-in-hand with humans without any barrier.

Even in fields like construction, robots will have a big role to play. Buildots uses AI and deep learning to make robotics useful across the construction industry. The company attaches 360-degree cameras onto project managers' hardhats that can collect footage from inside construction sites and analyze the data.

While managers require to take reference by opening multiple designs or charts to verify progress, the Buildots platform automatically creates the construction control room by the data captured using the cameras, and compares it to the designs and project schedule.

Robot Store Concepts to Stay and Grow

The pandemic fostered the spread of autonomous checkout or robot store concepts. Local stores are adopting this robotic technology, which can eliminate cashiers and the checkout process completely and provide a seamless grab-and-go shopping experience to customers. According to consumer survey by Shekel, 87% of shoppers say they would prefer to shop at stores with touchless or robust self-checkout options.

The survey was carried out in the United States and more than 70% of shoppers said that they are using touchless, robust self-checkout options or shopping at frictionless micro-markets, in comparison to nearly 29% that are shopping online.

AiFi, a company that offers AI-powered frictionless autonomous shopping experiences, is partnering with Wundermart that creates unmanned, data-driven retail marketplaces to roll out 20 autonomous convenience stores in the first quarter of this year. The system created by this partnership will also provide insight into consumer behavior and item performance which can help brick-and-mortar retailers compete with data-driven digital retailers more effectively.

Acquisition Boosting Robotics Space

Many companies are expanding its operations venturing into smaller robotics companies to grab a share of the robotics space. DoorDash, a delivery platform that went public last December, is gradually stepping into restaurant automation. The company announced plans to acquire Chowbotics, a salad-making robot in the first week of February. Earlier, DoorDash cracked a partnership deal with Starship Technologies to explore food delivery robots.

Earlier this year, BOTS, a company that designs products, technologies, and services for the rapidly growing cyber-security, digital robotics automation and AI for manufacturing industry, reported the formation of a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC).  Robot Acquisition Corporation (RoboSPAC) will be used to raise the necessary capital to acquire advanced, profitable, robotics enterprises.

Giants like Verizon are also expanding its robotic capabilities to power the future of robotic automation for enterprise customers. The company entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Incubed IT, an autonomous mobile robot software company. The merger will help Verizon administer, manage and optimize mixed fleets of robots in industrial settings as it continues to expand 5G coverage, capacity, and mobile edge compute capabilities.

5 Stocks to Buy

The ongoing digital transformation has led to the creation of new business models and has been driving robot adoption. Robots are also being used in space exploration, under-water exploration, harvesting crops, cleaning and security. And with AI backing the space, robot-assisted surgeries, delivery, recycling are no longer just concepts. Given the phenomenal developments in the space, we have shortlisted five stocks that are poised to grow.

iRobot designs, builds and sells robots. The company, belonging to the Zacks Industrial Automation and Robotics industry, has an earnings growth projection of more than 100% for the current quarter. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for this company’s current-year earnings has been revised 37.1% upward over the past 60 days. iRobot holds a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Flex provides design, engineering, manufacturing, and supply chain services and solutions to original equipment manufacturers. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 25.5% compared with the Zacks Electronics - Miscellaneous Products industry’s projected earnings growth of 14.3%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for this company’s current-year earnings has been revised 14.3% upward over the past 60 days. Flex holds a Zacks Rank #1.

ABB manufactures and sells electrification, industrial automation, and robotics and motion products. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 17.1% compared with the Zacks Manufacturing - Electronics industry’s projected earnings growth of 13%.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for this company’s current-year earnings has been revised 4.2% upward over the past 60 days. ABB holds a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Microsoft develops, licenses and supports software, services, devices and solutions. The tech giant’s AI Lab provides a platform to develop intelligent bots. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 27.4% compared with the Zacks Computer - Software industry’s projected earnings growth of 5.2%.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for this company’s current-year earnings has been revised 9.1% upward over the past 60 days. Microsoft carries a Zacks Rank #2.

E-commerce company JD.com also engages in building powerful AI and machine learning tools. It focuses on deep learning, natural language and speech recognition applications. The company has also created autonomous delivery robots that can help reduce human-to-human contact, making it an ideal solution for last-mile delivery solution.

The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 58.7% compared with the Zacks Internet - Commerce industry’s projected earnings growth of 9.7%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for this company’s current-year earnings has been revised 0.6% upward over the past 60 days. JD carries a Zacks Rank #2.

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