Tedious and studious are not the words that usually come to mind with potentially disruptive technologies and possibly profitable speculations. And yet, I return to report on MVIS. If I only hit the highlights, the great or terrible news, I’d be delivering an incomplete view of the world of individual investing. I’m also not going to chronicle every nuance in every stock because that would go beyond tedious to dive into dull. MicroVision’s technology is finally entering the marketplace, but it hasn’t hit that fabled key application that makes everyone aware that the world is changing. The catalysts have yet to catalyze.
As I said to a friend and fellow shareholder, the short version is that we are both still working. The long version is full of intriguing details, but the only folks I know who’ve profited enough from MVIS to dial back their jobs are traders and short sellers. Those of us who are Long Term Buy and Hold folks feel the weight of the Long Term, and are getting tired of holding for so long. But, that’s about to change. Right?
The good news: The company is making enough money and has a large enough backlog that I no longer worry about them going bankrupt – at least not any more than any other company that can run into bad luck.
The other good news: According to the conference call, orders are coming in, and several products are expected to be released by the end of the year. Have fun parsing the exact wording. Products can be announced, but not for sale. They can be launched, for short terms in test markets. And, they can become instant sensations that make headlines.
I’ve updated the catalysts chart that I’ve taken to maintaining. If I’d known I’d be using it so much I would’ve designed it differently. Maybe some other day. It’s getting busy. (And could use some updates. Does anyone have the real dates on some of these launches? Particularly the Pioneer HUD?) Celluon teased that there’d be news by the end of April, but so far it looks like the news is the announcement that there will be news about PicoBit and a surprise.
The Official PicoBit announcement is coming! Along with a surprise! Stay tuned! pic.twitter.com/U6pNrXRTH7
— Celluon, Inc. (@celluon) April 29, 2016
//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsSony’s competitor to Amazon’s Echo possibly has MVIS inside, but no launch date that I can find. The Qualper smartphone has been announced, but depending on who I listen to it is either already for sale in China or yet to be officially for sale. The ViewSmart projector was like the others, mentioned at CES; but not hitting headlines since then. The only product with a relatively firm date is RoBoHoN, the robotic smartphone that follows you around (slowly); but few expect many sales because it is expensive, gimmicky, and not practical.
That specific list of unspecific events expands dramatically with the announcement from the CEO that there will be several new products introduced/announced/released/whatever by several OEMs by the end of the year. We’re told to expect the unexpected. That sounds like hype, but the technology is disruptive and will inspire creativity and innovation. Maybe it will inspire profits, too. A few years ago the CEO postulated that profitability would occur about 6-9 months after the release of a smartphone with an embedded MicroVision projector. That would make a difference in MVIS. (Forward looking statement disclaimer in full force, I’m sure.)
Overnight successes usually take more than one night to succeed. To long term shareholders, any success will come with great patience. To the general public, it may seem sudden. At this point, though, there is no guarantee of success; just an improved chance of not going out of business suddenly.
Investing can be tedious. The studious aspects involve arithmetic, which discourages a large portion of the population. Timing when a stock is going to rise is gambling. Speculative stocks are close enough that some seem no difference; but buying early and being patient reduces the risk of missing the big positive event, while also exposing the shareholder to many negative events. So far with MVIS, I’ve witnessed lots of negative events. In my thirty years of investing before The Great Recession (or as I think of it, the Second Great Depression), I frequently bought small companies and held the stock through doldrums and then fast rises. Buy into Pixar when people are laughing at the idea of using computers to make movies. Buy into Starbucks when people are laughing at buying expensive coffee. Buy into America Online when few saw a need for communicating by computer. I also held some that never succeed. A few case studies are in my book that is the basis of this blog, Dream. Invest. Live.
Ideas come and go and can come back again. The idea that there will be innovative applications is not new. Shareholders have been brainstorming for years about possible applications; especially, when inspired by demos from meetings or crowdfunding campaigns. Interactive 3-D, sure. Saw that at an ASM a few years ago. Machine vision? Sounds like the UPS application. One device that scans and projects? I thought of that about a decade ago. Imagine eyewear that is easier to use than Google Glass, not as obvious, that also does an iris or retinal scan for privacy or security verification. Spy agencies and defense contractors would love it. For Your Eyes Only finally lives up to its name.
The CEO closed the call with the invitation that we’ll all meet again in three months. Evidently he forgot to mention the stockholders meeting at the beginning of June. Every year I think that the next year’s meeting will be a major celebration. Since last year’s meeting, MVIS is down over 30%. The company is doing better. Management’s been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars again. And, MVIS shareholders who expected to be retired have gone off to find work. I hope to be retired again, but by my Rule of 7, I won’t get there by MVIS alone until the stock is a few hundred dollars a share. Not a lot of celebration going on, except for the traders and the shorts.
The competition recognizes the positively disruptive nature of pico projection. Pico projection are a logical progression of the computer displays that went from blinking lights to CRTs to flat panels to laptops to smartphones to the next step which is images projected on walls, your skin, and retinas. Look at the machine you’re reading this post on. Unless you printed it out, you’re staring at a heavy and fragile chunk of glass with phenomenal circuitry and high manufacturing rejection rates. Make projectors as ubiquitous as cell phone cameras and devices get smaller while displays get larger, batteries last longer, and fewer resources are used or need to be recycled. MicroVision had the lead. The questions now are, will they get it back, and can they grab enough market share soon enough to make enough profit.
Folks familiar with chemistry may appreciate the fact that MicroVision’s and MVIS’ situations are like experiments involving super-saturated solutions. Whatever is in the test tube looks innocuous, but then one slight change suddenly crystalizes the entire liquid – or not. The only thing to do is maintain the tedious and studious attention to the details, and watch.