Each week, a professional investor tells us where he'd put his money. This week: Wesley Lebeau of CPR AM Global Disruptive Opportunities.
Disruption is a defining feature of the world economy and is driven by trends including demographic change, innovation and environmental challenges. The speed and impact of disruption is also increasing, generating unparalleled growth and a wealth of investment opportunities. This acceleration is exemplified by the fact that, while it took 13 years for television to reach 50 million users, the equivalent demand for Pokmon Go arose in just 19 days.
It's easy to think that investing in disruption means seeking exposure to artificial intelligence (AI) or robotics, but it's also possible to find sources of growth using a multi-sectoral approach. This means investing in firms transforming an existing market or creating a new one across the four areas of the digital economy, industry, life sciences and natural resources. Opportunities can be found among mature players such as Google and Amazon, but also smaller firms providing a niche offering. It's important to have a diversified portfolio to avoid the pitfalls of investing in trendy momentum stocks.
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When it comes to mature players, we like PayPal (Nasdaq: PYPL), which popularised integrated payments more than 20 years ago. Today a wave of disruption is affecting the fintech industry, including increased regulation and real-time payment software, but Paypal is ahead of the disruption curve.
An example of creating a new market is cloud computing. In 2006 cloud software pure plays represented $700m, but now stand at $36bn and are expected to grow to $93bn by 2021. The same can be said about cloud market share as a proportion of IT spend: from 0.1% in 2006 it is projected to reach 17% in the next five years. We favour Ultimate Software (Nasdaq: ULTI), a vendor of payroll-processing software in the mid-market. The complicated tax and regulatory environment in the US makes this processing difficult an issue solved by this firm's "one-stop" platform for HR, payroll and staff management.
The electric and driverless vehicles sector stands to benefit from disruption. Individual components are exposed to it, particularly in electricity generation. Opportunities are not limited to developed markets either, as China has announced that it is putting a stop date on the sale of conventional gasoline cars.
Lastly, it's worth looking at life sciences, which is undergoing changes, allowing quicker, cost-efficient and more accurate diagnosis, disrupting the traditional healthcare industry. Intuitive Surgical (Nasdaq: ISRG), a pioneer in robotic surgery, is one of our picks. Intuitive provides benefits for patients and hospitals and has raised strong expectations among surgeons due to the reduction in human risk and its positive impact on insurance policies. It's difficult to identify disruptors and technologies that will have an impact on multiple sectors. In order to do this, a global approach is required to identify actors at all levels of maturity, regardless of origin, sector or market capitalisation
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