Every year or so I take a look at the publicly traded companies I track from an earnings perspective to see which firms belong in the pack and which don’t. I figured that you guys might wonder which companies I monitor, as either indicators of IoT success in different categories or as those I think are interesting because they are building the future of IoT.
Some, like Amazon or Google, are pretty obvious, and this isn’t an article about the top 10 IoT stocks you should invest in. Rather, it’s a rundown of the companies I think show us the future of the internet of things.
Let’s do this.
When it comes to the smart home, I try to keep an eye on companies providing connected products and services. That list ranges from the aforementioned Google (GOOG) and Amazon (AMZN) to recent newcomers, such as Arlo (ARLO) and Sonos (SONO). I also track Alarm.com, Control4, and the newly created Resideo (REZI), which went public this week and is the former home security division of Honeywell.
Also on the smart home front, I check in with Comcast (CMCSA) and Silicon Labs (SLAB) — Comcast because it’s pushing its Xfinity Home business, which includes its home security and home automation offering and now has 1.3 million subscribers. Silicon Labs is in the mix because it purchased Sigmatel, the maker of Z-wave chips used in smart home hubs and a variety of sensors. I know hubs are on the wane, but Silicon Labs also provides Bluetooth, ZigBee, and Wi-Fi chips for battery-based devices and other IoT products.
When I remember to do it, I’ll skim the earnings transcripts for Best Buy (BBY), Home Depot (HD), and Lowe’s (LOW) for any mention of the smart home or IoT, but they rarely mention it.
Because I believe connectivity is important, I also track many of the cellular carriers in the U.S. and a few abroad. I check in on AT&T (T), Verizon (VZ), T-Mobile (TMUS), and Vodafone (VOD) regularly; I’ll occasionally see what Sprint (S) and Orange (ORA) are up to as well. While there has been a lot of excitement around satellites and enthusiasm for alternative technologies such as Sigfox, LoRa, and other Low-Power Wide-Area networks, the closest I can ever get to tracking them is through private companies.
On the industrial side, there are a few companies that offer a good window into the IoT. PTC (PTC) comes closest to being a pure-play IoT business, so I make sure to check its earnings every quarter and monitor any news the company puts out. GE (GE), Emerson (EMR), and Honeywell (HON) are also good indicators, although with GE’s recent trouble there’s been much less focus on IoT and digital and more on restructuring. Siemens (SIE) and Johnson Controls (JCI) also get a look.
Zebra Technologies (ZBRA) is another company that provides good context for IoT. Before the internet of things was even a thing, Zebra was providing RFID tags and data analytics to retailers, stadiums, and other businesses. Its executives understand not just the technology but the business processes associated with what folks now call a digital transformation.
Since I’m a former chip reporter, I like to keep up to date on a few companies that are building silicon for IoT. I mentioned Silicon Labs, but NXP (NXPI), Qualcomm (QCOM), Nordic Semiconductor (NDCVF), and Adesto Technologies (IOTS) also offer some good insights into the future of IoT adoption. Occasionally I check out the Sierra Wireless (SWIR) news and earnings, mostly because it provides modules for companies wanting to add cellular connectivity. Sierra is also trying to move a bit further up the stack when it comes to helping companies implement connected tech inside their business operations.
That really only leaves some of the bigger IT companies. But other than Microsoft (MSFT) and the occasional glance at Accenture (ACN), I’m not religiously following Intel (INTC), Cisco (CSCO), or any of the other big-name companies that like to talk a lot about IoT as I don’t yet see much of it in their earnings or their various businesses.
IBM (IBM) said it was spending big on IoT but again, I don’t see it. The company has pushed Watson, and I would love for Watson to be a force in the conversation, but when I talk to buyers of industrial or enterprise IT, IBM never even comes up.
With Microsoft, I don’t pay too much attention to its earnings, but I do track the company’s news and blog posts associated with IoT simply because its Azure cloud and related IoT products are forward-looking and right in line with what enterprise and industrial customers want. In fact, out of all of the companies I’m tracking, Microsoft has one of the more compelling internet of things stories to tell.