Q1 2023 In Overview: ROBO, HTEC & THNQ

The current wave of maximum climate—from “atmospheric rivers” drenching the drought-ridden west coast, to the unprecedented sequence of tornadoes ripping via the Midwest—are an ideal parallel to what buyers skilled in March. Although “turbulent” has been an ideal descriptor for the dramatic turns available in the market ever because the Fed first started boosting rates of interest a yr in the past, issues got here to a bona fide boiling level final month, pushed largely by the three financial institution closures that brought on world panic, important deposit outflows, and a short however sharp downturn as a seeming disaster of confidence gripped world markets. And but, regardless of the March Insanity, the primary quarter formed as much as be a winner. The ROBO ETFs have been no exception, with beneficial properties posted throughout the board. The ROBO International Synthetic Intelligence Index (THNQ) jumped +22.8%, the ROBO International Robotics & Automation Index (ROBO) returned +17.71%, and the ROBO International Healthcare Know-how & Innovation Index (HTEC) gained +3.33%.

That resilience begs the query: is it attainable for the final decade’s playbook of development to final eternally? Whereas the occasions of the final two weeks actually uncovered some idiosyncratic points, in our opinion it’s troublesome to argue that the system itself faces any kind of existential menace past tighter general monetary circumstances (which, albeit, are nothing to miss). Nonetheless, with tech driving the majority of the current rally—and know-how seemingly having nowhere to go however up—what’s to cease continued, fast development when the Fed’s tried-and-true strategies can’t appear to dampen investor enthusiasm? A more in-depth take a look at what happened this quarter might supply some clues.

1Q was all about imply reversion from the 2022 dynamics as rate of interest expectations violently declined. Cracks within the banking system, easing inflation, and indicators of some slowdown in US consumption have market members anticipating the tip of the Fed’s hike cycle inside the yr. On the identical time, there was a marked reversal in inventory valuations, with lots of the massive losers of 2022 rising to grow to be massive winners in 1Q. And whereas development shares recovered their market management place (pushed by mega-cap tech, unprofitable tech, and costly software program shares), small caps, healthcare, and defensive shares underperformed. Within the US, mega-cap tech shares returned a whopping +31%, with the remainder of the S&P returning simply +2%.

Diving deeper into the ROBO International Indexes, 1Q demonstrated the energy and potential development trajectory of corporations in robotics, AI, and healthcare applied sciences:



The ROBO International Robotics & Automation Index (ROBO) logged double-digit share beneficial properties for the second consecutive quarter, returning +17.71% and handily outperforming the 7.3% acquire for the MSCI AC World Index (ACWI)1 by greater than 10ppt throughout the quarter. The ROBO index of best-in-class robotics and automation equities around the globe was led by robust beneficial properties in Computing & AI (+25%), Actuation (+22%), and Logistics Automation (+18%), whereas European (+12%) and Healthcare (+4%) shares lagged.


AI and semiconductor shares delivered the strongest efficiency in Q1, with iFlyTek (+95%), Nvidia (+90%), International Unichip (+71%), and Samsara (+59%) topping the charts. The arrival of generative AI fashions, the ChatGPT craze, and the growth in eye-opening functions have actually led to renewed optimism across the group, with valuations reaching astonishing ranges as soon as once more. For instance, Nvidia is now buying and selling on 60x ahead PE2 and 25x gross sales, not too far off its 2021 excessive of 70x PE3.

The excellent news is that different areas of the portfolio stay comparatively low-cost in comparison with the areas of the portfolio mentioned above, particularly cyclical shares in industrial end-markets similar to manufacturing and industrial automation (17x), meals and agriculture (16x), and Japanese shares (15x). We additionally notice that non-US shares, which account for 56% of the ROBO portfolio, are buying and selling at a considerable low cost (18x) in comparison with US shares (36x). That is very true in Japan. Japanese corporations, which account for 22% of the ROBO index and have a mixed 40% share of the world’s industrial robotic market, are, in our opinion, poised to profit from each the sturdy financial restoration in China after a chaotic path out of Covid restrictions, and the dramatic depreciation within the Japanese Yen, which offers a considerable price benefit and will result in margin enlargement. 

In combination, ROBO is buying and selling on a 26x ahead PE, in contrast with the 24x common since inception practically 10 years in the past and the 2021 excessive of 36x. In the meantime, earnings development stays robust relative to broad fairness indices, with expectations for a ten% earnings per share4 (EPS) improve in 2023 (just like what we noticed in 2022), with 8% gross sales development according to the long-term common. We consider this displays the energy in demand for automation. Adoption has continued to speed up throughout more and more broad swaths of the financial system.

Regardless of the fast improve in the price of capital, M&A exercise is powerful within the Robotics & Automation area, with two index members, Stratasys and Nationwide Devices, receiving takeover bids because the begin of 2023. This brings the overall variety of takeover makes an attempt on ROBO index members to 30 since 2013, with a median of about three per yr.

Along with the standard 1Q rebalance, March noticed three adjustments to the ROBO index: Symbotic was added, and Amano and Shenzhen Inovance have been excluded. We consider Symbotic has quickly emerged as a pacesetter in logistics and warehouse automation, because of its complete resolution for automating the processing of pallets and instances for retailers. In just some years, it has amassed an infinite order backlog price over $12 billion for greater than 170 techniques, primarily with Walmart5. Amano was excluded on diminished income and know-how management scores, and Shenzhen Inovance was eliminated attributable to a rise in international possession. Shenzhen Inovance has returned a complete 279% since its inclusion within the ROBO index in 2019.



The ROBO International Synthetic Intelligence Index (THNQ) gained 22.8% in 1Q, far outperforming ACWI (+5%). The advances of ChatGPT have created super optimism available in the market, and we consider THNQ is an effective way to seize the evolution of this ecosystem. AI, after all, reaches far past “simply” knowledge analytics. As lots of the most influential know-how visionaries on the earth have opined, AI is probably the most disruptive know-how innovation of our lifetime. Enterprises are embracing AI to make use of myriad types of information to their benefit and to combine processes throughout all traces of enterprise and industries. The record of functions is as spectacular as it’s huge. 


ChatGPT, a member of the generative pre-trained transformer (GPT) household of language fashions, has gained reputation lately for its means to generate human-like textual content content material. It’s a sort of synthetic intelligence (AI) that makes use of machine studying algorithms to research giant quantities of textual content knowledge and generate responses in a conversational method. One motive for the ChatGPT craze is that it has the flexibility to carry pure and interesting conversations with customers. It might perceive and reply to a variety of subjects and might even generate personalised responses based mostly on person enter. This makes it a useful gizmo for duties similar to customer support, chatbots, and even creating content material for social media or web sites. Another excuse for ChatGPT’s reputation is that it’s comparatively simple to make use of and requires minimal setup. Many software program builders and firms have begun incorporating ChatGPT into their services, making it extra extensively out there and accessible to most people.

In our opinion, Nvidia is seen because the clear chief in AI, a sector that’s predicted to develop dramatically—and rapidly. Based on a current report[1], the worldwide AI market was valued at $119 billion in 2022 and is anticipated to growth to $1.59 trillion as quickly as 2030, leading to an estimated compound annual development charge6 (CAGR) of 38% between 2022 and 2030. The drivers of that development stretch throughout the huge panorama of AI functions, together with healthcare, finance, retail, automotive, and extra. In a world the place AI functions are a digital “goldmine,” as a number one AI chip supplier, NVDA is delivering the shovels required to dig for fortunes. NVDA’s AI merchandise embrace a full line of {hardware} and software program, starting from NVIDIA GPU Cloud (concentrating on cloud functions) to NVIDIA Jetson (concentrating on autonomous machines), to NVIDIA TensorRT (concentrating on high-performance deep studying). The corporate posted over +90% development in 1Q, serving to to push the THNQ index to its personal double-digit beneficial properties for the quarter.



The ROBO International Healthcare Know-how & Innovation Index (HTEC) gained +3.18% in 1Q, barely underperforming ACWI’s +5% acquire. Constructive beneficial properties have been pushed by Knowledge Analytics (+12%), however this was offset by different sectors, together with Regenerative Medication (-17%) and Precision Medication (-13%). Importantly, we continued to see main innovation milestones throughout the quarter, such because the collaboration between Vertex and CRISPR Therapeutics, which builds on their focus of making cell and genetic therapies for eradicating critical ailments. A brand new licensing settlement between the 2 corporations will probably speed up the event of Vertex’s hypo-immune cell therapies for the remedy of sort 1 diabetes. Cell and genetic therapies are key to their technique of growing transformative therapies for critical ailments, and this settlement is a crucial subsequent step in cementing their management in these modalities as they carry ahead their broad gene and cell-based therapeutics portfolio. 


Moreover, Natera introduced extra constructive information lower than 6 months after its VA protection settlement for minimal residual illness monitoring (MRD). A brand new molecular diagnostics companies program (MolDX) will now cowl the Signatera molecular MRD for sufferers with IIb or extra superior breast most cancers, together with the HR-positive, HER2, and triple-negative sorts, including to their present colorectal, bladder, and pan-cancer monitoring. The announcement instantly elevated the highest and backside line for 2023 and past, as the typical promoting value7 (ASP) is estimated to be $2.5K–$3.5K, and there are tens of 1000’s of eligible sufferers yearly, which might see $30 million accretive this yr—a attainable 3–5% increase to the topline this yr alone relying on adoption pace. The end result: the inventory jumped 17% on the day of the announcement.

Simply because the dramatic climate patterns are anticipated to proceed throughout the US and across the globe, there isn’t any motive to anticipate calmer waters available in the market within the months and years to come back. The tendency for buyers to react to crises of all types is unlikely to waver. On the identical time, we consider it’s clear that know-how is including worth to just about the whole lot it touches, and when corporations ship applied sciences that drive worth, buyers might in the end reap rewards. No matter how the financial system, the Fed, or the “disaster of the second” impacts the markets within the brief time period, look ahead to know-how—together with robotics, automation, and healthcare applied sciences—to behave probably because the predictable buoy that lifts portfolios larger and better.



[1] Synthetic Intelligence (AI) Market Measurement, Development, Report 2022-2030, Priority Analysis, January 2023


Sources & Definitions:

1 MSCI AC World Index is MSCI’s flagship world fairness index, and is designed to characterize efficiency of the complete alternative set of large- and mid-cap shares throughout 23 developed and 24 rising markets.

2 The ahead P/E estimates the relative worth of the earnings.

3 The value-to-earnings (P/E) ratio relates an organization’s share value to its earnings per share.

4 Earnings per share (EPS) is an organization’s web revenue divided by the variety of frequent shares it has excellent.

5 Supply: Symbotic

6 The compound annual development charge (CAGR) is the speed of return (RoR) that will be required for an funding to develop from its starting stability to its ending stability, assuming the earnings have been reinvested on the finish of every interval of the funding’s life span.

7 The time period “common promoting value” (ASP) refers back to the common value or service is bought for.

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