“In the midst of this pandemic and the surrounding economic implications, several opportunities are arising in specific industries and many of these companies are experiencing unprecedented growth.” – Pitango Venture Capital, March 15, 2020 [i]
The stock market is causing a lot of heartburn these days, setting records for both biggest one-day gains and one-day losses. But amid the widespread economic slowdown caused by the global coronavirus pandemic, some industries and companies are flourishing.
Pharmaceutical companies are still working to develop vaccines. Biotechs are using new artificial intelligence-powered drug discovery platforms to speed vaccine development. Hospitals are using 3D printers to quickly manufacture ventilator parts. Public agencies are monitoring large populations with drones and robots equipped with fever-detection technologies.
And while consumers are avoiding brick-and-mortar stores, they are shopping online and entertaining themselves in their confinement with online games and video streaming services.
If you haven’t fortified your portfolio with coronavirus-resistant stocks yet, it’s time to take a look at the five companies in this report. Each of them is tied to the coronavirus economy in some way and each could see significant gains as we fight our way out of the pandemic. More importantly, they are all solid companies worthy of long-term investment.
Finding opportunity in the coronavirus economy
The pandemic is reorienting the way we live and do business. Some of the changes will be temporary, but others will have a lasting effect.
We’re seeing the rise of drone monitoring, the fall of burdensome regulatory hurdles for new drug approvals, a greater reliance on business technologies like videoconferencing and touch-free security systems, a new comfort level with telemedicine, and a seismic blow to brick-and-mortar stores as consumers shift to even more online shopping.
These changes are creating enormous opportunities for investors.
Companies like videoconferencing service provider Zoom Video Communications (Nasdaq: ZM), cloud computing and software company Citrix Systems (NASDAQ: CTXS), and Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), which is seeing online orders explode with social distancing, are all good investment choices to give you the kind of gains that could make broad market losses less painful.
But those are admittedly not the undiscovered wonder stocks you’re probably hoping to find. Throughout history, crisis has often sparked some of society’s greatest innovations. Today is no exception. These five under-the-radar companies are leading the way, and they are poised to prosper in the new coronavirus economy.
Drones take flight against Coronavirus
Plymouth Rock Technologies Inc. (CSE:PRT | OTC:PLRTF | FWB:4XA)(CSE:PRT | OTC:PLRTF | FWB:4XA)
When the coronavirus began to spread uncontrollably in Wuhan, China, the government deployed a fleet of drones to help stop the virus. Entire cities were sprayed from above with disinfectants.
Drones hovered over crowds to issue dispersal orders and carried building materials as the government rushed to build new hospitals. Most importantly, to help stop the spread of disease, drones were fitted with advanced thermal sensors to identify people on the ground that displayed symptoms of the coronavirus.
Similar campaigns are now being implemented in other countries, including France, the U.K., and the U.S. In Daytona Beach, Florida, the sheriff’s department is using drones to warn people off the beaches. In Elizabeth, New Jersey drones are monitoring neighborhoods, alerting people to move away from each other. In Britain, the National Health Service is testing drones to speed the delivery of medical supplies without risking infection to humans.[ii]
One of the problems that must be overcome for effective drone delivery of medical supplies is the inability of most drones to carry all but the lightest payloads.
Added weight notoriously and significantly reduces drones’ stability, airspeed, and flight time before batteries run out. Most drones can stay aloft for only 10 to 20 minutes, and even the most expensive commercial UAVs often max out at 50 minutes, and far less with payloads.
What’s more, for virus scanning of populations, unlike other competitors who rely on heavier, bulkier sensor systems that significantly reduce functionality, Plymouth Rock Technologies uses a compact, lightweight 30Hz infrared thermal sensor that works with an ultra-high resolution 4K camera to give accurate analysis of body temperature from significant height and distance.
That’s why government agencies would be wise to look at the X1 unmanned aerial system (UAS) developed by Plymouth Rock Technologies Inc. (CSE:PRT | OTC:PLRTF | FWB:4XA)(CSE:PRT | OTC:PLRTF | FWB:4XA).
Several important factors made Plymouth Rock’s X1 drone the top choice. The X1 was designed with direct input from military, law enforcement, and intelligence agencies to meet their exacting need for reliability, payload capacity, flight duration, airspeed, and stability.
The drone has been successfully demonstrated to several government agencies, including law enforcement and counter-terror organizations.
That a small and relatively young company was able to gain access to these agencies, is a testament to not only the unrivaled sophistication of Plymouth Rock’s technology, but to its high-powered executive team as well. Says security industry journal Enterprise Security:
“Not all [drones] can be trusted when it comes to intelligent and national security services. Trustworthy drone manufacturers are critically needed, and Plymouth Rock Technologies (PRT), with over a century of cumulative experience, understands screening and threat detection better than most players in the market.” [iii]
Former Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security joins Plymouth Rock board
The company’s credentials run deep. CEO Dana Wheeler has a proven depth of experience with the development of advanced millimeter-wave technologies, which are rapidly becoming the threat detection industry’s state of the art. Co-founder Carl Cagliarini oversaw development of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Space Technology Research Vehicle-2 (STRV-2), a multinational suite of experiments designed to advance space-based imaging technology and material science.
Significantly, on April 29th, Douglas Smith, former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, joined Plymouth Rock’s board of directors, taking a more active role in the development of the company. His input and participation as a board member bring not only key technical expertise, but also high-level connections to key decision makers in governments here and abroad.
Relationships and customers include U.S. Army, NASA, Secret Service
Those credentials and connections are one of the reasons why Plymouth Rock Technologies Inc. (CSE:PRT | OTC:PLRTF | FWB:4XA)(CSE:PRT | OTC:PLRTF | FWB:4XA) already has a stellar roster of partners and customers, including the U.S. Army, the U.S. Secret Service, NASA, the National Institute of Standards and Technologies, as well as law enforcement and counter-terror organizations worldwide.
This year the company is on track to release a new arsenal of security and threat detection products and services, including a new airborne threat detection platform that will not only assist law enforcement, border patrol and fire rescue, but through use of multiple sensors be able to detect suicide bombers and roadside IED devices.
Most impressively, Plymouth Rock Technologies Inc. (CSE:PRT | OTC:PLRTF | FWB:4XA)(CSE:PRT | OTC:PLRTF | FWB:4XA) has developed a technology that solves the problem that makes airport security systems cumbersome and slow.
Novel new technology makes public spaces safer, more efficient
Currently, anyone passing through security scanners at airports, schools, prisons, government buildings, and other secured places must inconveniently remove their shoes, which are then scanned by X-ray.
Plymouth Rock’s new technology, which is set for release later this year, is a floor-mounted, step-through scanner that uses extremely high frequency (EHF) imaging combined with artificial intelligence software to scan a wearer’s shoes in just a few seconds.
The SS1 Shoe Scanner can detect weaponry, explosive compounds, or electronics concealed in any kind of shoe. The SS1 can also detect and highlight irregular modifications that have been made to the structure of the shoe.
In June 2019, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) prioritized the mission of bringing shoe scanner technology to security checkpoints. Subsequently, top global security companies reached out to Plymouth Rock to explore licensing and retrofitting the SS1 shoe scanner technology into their existing screening systems for airports and checkpoints worldwide.
Global threat detection market tops $70 billion dollars
The rising global threat of terror and violence has created a robust market for technically advanced threat detection systems, including for explosives, radiological and nuclear devices, narcotics, chemical and biological agents, and intrusion, among others.
The market is growing at a rapid pace of 12.8% CAGR, and is expected to reach $163.4 billion by 2025. While the developing economies of the Asia Pacific region are driving a portion of that growth, the U.S. will remain the most lucrative region. The Department of Homeland Security alone has allocated $51.7 billion in threat detection spending for 2020, an increase of $4.2 billion over 2019.[iv]
Major threat detection solutions providers include Safran (SAFRY), Smiths Group (SMGZY), Thales S.A. (THLEF), and Flir Systems (FLIR). However, none of those are pure-play threat detection companies, and in fact, Plymouth Rock Technologies Inc. (CSE:PRT | OTC:PLRTF | FWB:4XA)(CSE:PRT | OTC:PLRTF | FWB:4XA) is one of the few pure play companies in the space.
Though a young company, the executives and scientists that make up Plymouth Rock’s key personnel have worked together since the late 1990s to advance state-of-the-art technologies.
A long record of tech innovations that make history
Plymouth Rock executives and scientists have developed and commercialized some of the most significant tech innovations of the past two decades, including:
- Introduction of the original Space Technology Research Vehicle 2 (STRV-2) for NASA in 2000
- Development of the world’s fastest urban area wireless internet network, recognized as the birth of broadband, in 2002
- Creation of the first low latency control system for the RHIC Collider at Brookhaven National Labs in 2004
- Augmentation of the first drones with machine-learning capabilities for crowd observation in 2012
- Introduction and coordination with US Army and US Secret Service of the first portable long-range suicide bomb detection system using millimeter wave technologies in 2013
- Development of state of the art drone technology with military intelligence and law enforcement capability in 2019
- Strategic work with the US Unique Mission Cell (UMC), the 2004, 2012, and 2016 Olympic Games; the governments of Saudi Arabia, Brazil, South Africa, and Dubai; the 2010 Soccer World Cup, and the 2014 FIFA World Cup
Since founding Plymouth Rock Technologies, the company has kept up its pace of accomplishments, from providing presidential drone protection in 2019, to being selected by several US agencies to provide prototype drones capable of facial recognition and weapon detection earlier this year.
Like the broader markets, Plymouth Rock Technologies Inc. (CSE:PRT | OTC:PLRTF | FWB:4XA)(CSE:PRT | OTC:PLRTF | FWB:4XA) has seen its stock fall by about a third since mid-February. However, unlike the broader market, Plymouth Rock’s suite of technologies is just as essential – and even more essential – in the coronavirus economy as they were before the pandemic. Though the company is little known to date – having started trading in the U.S. in only November 2018 – that will rapidly change as the company commercializes its threat detection technologies through the rest of 2020.
Plymouth Rock could grow into a company of significant size in a short period of time. All signs point to a dominant market position within the next few years. Consider taking a position today and watching the company grow.
A new way to work in (and after) the coronavirus economy
Slack Technologies (NYSE: WORK)
While the poster child for the work-at-home trend is Zoom Video Communications (ZM), its lesser-known peer might be the better investment.
Slack Technologies is an up-and-coming remote work program that could give Zoom a run for its money. In September 2019 MarketWatch noted that Slack Technologies “is the fastest-growing software-as-a-service company of all time.” That pronouncement is being borne out in the coronavirus economy. In the nine days from March 16 to March 25 Slack’s total users soared from 2 million to 12.5 million.
Much larger competitor Zoom has also seen exponential growth. At the end of 2019 Zoom had about 10 million daily users. By March of this year that number had grown to 200 million. But Zoom’s stock has had an equally steep climb, and now trades at a phenomenally expensive 60 times book value.
Slack stock (WORK) plunged in early March after a poor earnings report for Q4 of 2019, but it quickly rebounded as investors recognized the part the service is playing in the coronavirus economy.
3D printing takes center stage in fight against coronavirus
Around the world, universities, tech firms, and 3D print enthusiasts are responding to the coronavirus by turning out everything from masks to ventilator parts. 3D printing has been especially critical in helping to boost production of test swabs.
One San Francisco startup called Origin shifted its resources from making 3D printers to making coronavirus test kits. Each of the company’s printers can print up to 1,500 swabs in just under eight hours.
Then there is the Belgian company Materialise NV, which is printing positive end expiratory pressure (PEEP) masks that can push oxygen into a patient’s lungs without use of a ventilator. The company has designed a 3D-printed connector that holds together a mask, a filter, and a PEEP valve. Called the Materialise Passive NIP, with NIP standing for non-invasive PEEP, the device is currently being fast tracked through the regulatory process to make it available as soon as possible. Materialise is also conducting a clinical trial to further determine the best use of the Passive NIP on COVID-19 patients.
The company has also developed a 3D-printed hands-free door opener that eliminates direct contact with the handle. One of the biggest dangers of the current coronavirus pandemic is that the virus can live for up to 72 hours on metal and plastic surfaces. That includes door handles, which can be touched by countless different hands throughout a day. Materialise also makes and markets a suite of 3D-printed medical products that range from patient-specific implants to exacting anatomical surgical models.
MTLS trades at around $19.50, and after declining considerably in March with the broader market, is now enjoying a recovery that is far higher and faster than Nasdaq’s recovery. Consider buying MTLS on weakness.
Healthcare in the era of coronavirus
Teladoc Health (TDOC)
Like Slack Technologies, this is another service that gives people remote access to the services they need while quarantined at home. Broadly called telehealth, it has been around for a while but has seen a surge in use since the coronavirus outbreak. Both California and New York are now requiring insurers to offer telehealth services, and other states are following suit. On March 17, the federal government announced an unprecedented expansion of telehealth services for all seniors through Medicare, which had previously restricted telehealth to seniors living in rural areas, and between clinicians and patients who had already established in-person care.
Teladoc is the leading telehealth service, boasting more than 37 million members in 130 countries, including 27 million users in the U.S. The company has seen demand for its virtual care services spike 50% because of the pandemic, delivering about 100,000 virtual visits in the week of March 16 alone. What’s more, on March 16, Blue Shield of California announced that in order to boost use of telehealth services it would waive all out of pocket costs for its plan members who use Teladoc.
The stock has doubled so far in 2020, but Teladoc is a good candidate for long-term investment. Consider buying on any significant pullback.
Racing to develop an effective coronavirus vaccine
Inovio Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: INO)
As we social distance our way out of the coronavirus pandemic, long-term control of the virus will depend on development of an effective vaccine. At least 21 companies are racing to create treatments, but only one has the backing of the powerful Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, known for its commitment to global health initiatives.
Inovio Pharmaceuticals, a Pennsylvania small-cap biotech, began clinical trials in April for a potential coronavirus vaccine after receiving regulatory clearance from the FDA. Preclinical data showed promising immune response results across multiple animal studies.
Initial results of the human trials are expected by late summer, and the company says it could be producing one million vaccine doses by the end of the year.
Shares of INO have been whipsawed of late after a Twitter message from Citron Research called into question the company’s claim that they designed their COVID-19 vaccine in three hours. Subsequently, several shareholder lawsuits were filed. However, that didn’t seem to phase the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which is the world’s largest vaccine development initiative. CEPI awarded Inovio a $6.9 million grant, announced in an April 16 press release, to help fund the COVID-19 vaccine. CEPI CEO Richard Hatchett says, “This development is an important step forward in the world’s search for a COVID-19 vaccine. INOVIO’s DNA vaccine platform was one of the first technologies selected by CEPI to develop a vaccine candidate against COVID-19.”
The company has already demonstrated success in developing vaccines for other coronavirus strains with similar symptoms to COVID-19, most notably the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
A good opportunity for stock profits in the coronavirus recession
While the stock market has recovered some of its losses thanks to quick action by the Federal Reserve, the rally is on shaky ground. Advisors are generally agreed that investors should not panic, but stay the course. And to give a bump to your returns, consider investing in a handful of stocks that could do well in the coronavirus economy, most notably Plymouth Rock Technologies Inc. (CSE:PRT | OTC:PLRTF | FWB:4XA)(CSE:PRT | OTC:PLRTF | FWB:4XA).
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