Frank Curzio's WALL STREET UNPLUGGED Podcast

Intel Journeys from Chip-Maker to High-Growth Innovator at CES

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If you don’t own Intel, I suggest buying shares on the recent pullback.

I just returned from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). It’s like the Super Bowl of technology conferences. A record 170,000 people filled the more-than two-million-square-foot venue in Las Vegas this year to check out the latest innovations and gadgets from more than 3,600 exhibitors.

This year’s show was fascinating. I had interactive conversations with robots … watched movies on some of the highest-definition televisions ever created … sampled beer from the world’s first automatic beer brewing machine … and saw UAV drones that fly up to 50 mph.

I’ve been attending the CES for years. And there are always a few companies that “stand out” from the crowd as being “innovative” and “difference-makers.”

This year that company was Intel (INTC).

Intel has never been high on my list in terms of innovation or excitement. The company produces “chips” that go into billions of gadgets. It’s a boring business — but one that generates boatloads of cash. Intel uses most of this money to buy back stock and pay its investors an oversize dividend (3.1% yield).

In short, Intel lacked the huge growth potential that technology investors like to see in companies like Google and Amazon. This is probably why shares have traded at a discount to the market for over a decade.

However, Intel’s latest technology blew me away at the CES. It was like seeing Apple unveil its first iPad or next-generation iPhone in front of a sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden.

 

For example, Intel partnered with DAQRI to produce an augmented reality helmet. Intel’s Core M processor will power the “hard hat,” which is paired with a 360-degree camera. This allows someone working on an oil rig, for example, to identify and order replacement parts or use thermal vision to detect problems you can’t see with the naked eye.

Intel also used this technology to create a state-of-the-art paintball mask. This allows users to access live tactical information with a glance.

Credit: Intel Corp.
Credit: Intel Corp.

Intel is going all-in on sports technology. The company teamed up with Replay Technologies to turn a regular video into a 360-degree 3D video. This means sports fans will be able to view superstar LeBron James dunking a basketball on live television from any angle.

Intel’s button-size Curie processor will be used at ESPN’s upcoming Winter X Games. These chips will be mounted to snowboards, skis and snowmobiles during competition. This allows athletes to monitor and analyze data such as their in-air rotations, jump height and distance.

In a live presentation, Intel showed how someone can be scanned into an actual video game. (They used first-person shooter game Fallout 4 as a demo.) Once the scan is complete, you become the actual character in the video game and can shoot the enemy.

A few more examples of the creative technologies from Intel included:

  • Autonomous drones with anti-collision features
  • Intelligent doorways that use face and fingerprint technology to open locks in your home and
  • Sight-assisted jackets that help guide people with visual impairments.

Over the past two decades, Intel missed out multibillion-dollar technology trends including mobile, online music, tablets and streaming media. The company was often criticized by the media and competitors for lack of innovation.

Intel won’t make that mistake again.

Expect to see Intel’s name on every major technology trend going forward including virtual reality, augmented reality, e-sports technology, sensors and the Internet of Things. Intel will not only be in tens of billions of devices — but will be a major player in driving these trends for decades to come.

For investors, this means Intel will likely trade at a much higher multiple as it transitions itself from that “old, boring chip company” into a “high-growth innovative technology leader.”

I suggest buying Intel at these levels and holding it for the longer term. The stock is dirt-cheap, pays a super-high dividend and finally has several growth catalysts. I’m sure Intel will be one of the best-performing Dow Jones components over the next few years.