Thursday, November 5, 2009

Microvision: Opportunity of a Lifetime… in our Lifetime (Part 5)

The cost of missing out can be greater than the cost of messing up.

“The opportunity of a lifetime must be seized in the lifetime of the opportunity.” …Leonard Ravenhill

From time to time, during the course of our lives, we are granted the "opportunity of a lifetime. It's a chance that doesn't come our way very often, and usually one that would result in enormous financial benefits to us… if we can manage to get hold of it before it fades away.

Here’s the REASON #5… to not let this opportunity pass you by and why you should quickly reposition your assets now…

Microvision: Paradigm Shift “Atoms” to “Bits”

No, this article is not about breaking Atoms into Bits… like in nuclear fission.

It is, however, all about the next wave of change, a paradigm shift, where real physical things [made-up of Atoms] are giving way to virtual things that physically don’t exist but function equally well with interweaved streams of bits, bytes, electrons and photons.

Consider this…

The Internet and mobile networks have reached a critical mass in terms of adoption, ease and speed of access, and data and financial security. This critical mass is now forging the next wave of change or a paradigm shift called “Atoms” to “Bits”. In the last few years, as you may have noticed, physical things [made up of Atoms] are giving way to electrons, photons and bits & bytes… in more of our every day activities and lives.

Some examples would be: comparison shopping on-line from virtual stores and paying by credit cards; on-line prescriptions; accessing & retrieving information on-line; banking and paying bills on-line; communications and information exchange on-line; rich text and video e-mails; on-line advertising and promotions; podcast & webcast; webinars and distant learning from virtual universities; telecommuting, teleconferencing and video conferencing; streaming videos in place of DVDs; on-line brokerage and virtual trading platforms; electronic buying and selling commodity exchanges, etc.

I think you get the idea. This paradigm shift has been underway for a while… but it is only recently [in the last three to four years] that it’s having a profound impact on brick & mortar type businesses. The on-line B2B and B2C business has grown from a few billion dollars a year to hundreds of billions of dollars in year 2009. And at the rate we are going, further technological enhancements in Internet, mobile networks, RGB lasers, nano technologies, augmented reality and automation will further increase the virtual commerce to over a trillion dollars in a short few years.

The paradigm shift from “Atoms” to “Bits”, as I call it, will be detrimental to many traditional businesses that still maintain monolithic physical presence and hang-on to the old business model in spite of visible signs of change and the resultant demand destruction for many traditional products and services. When you consider the impact of rising operating costs, higher taxes, rising fuel cost and higher costs of raw materials of all kind… you have the making of a witch’s brew that is sure to knock out any business that fails to change with the times. Those companies that recognize the evolution of Internet; mobile networks; augmented reality; nano technology; dramatic shift to virtual commerce; and automation ─ and have the vision to recognize its far-reaching impact on traditional business models, can capitalize from the revolution and not be its victim.

Blockbuster is a good example, shutting down stores and developing new alliances with cable operators. Rite-Aid looks like a bankruptcy candidate… unless they find a way to improve their balance sheet. And how about those high vacancy rates in malls, shopping centers and the ever so declining foot traffic of shoppers into such establishments?

Companies that fail to embrace the Real Time nature of globally connected New World Economy of the Internet and mobile networks will slowly disappear… cut down to nothing by the competition… or be acquired at massive discounts.

Massive changes are taking place in the way business is done, customers are acquired and served, financial transactions are conducted, risk is managed, and investments are made today. You can embrace the changes and go with the flow, to capitalize and gain from it, or be a victim of the change itself. Choices are simple but the impact will be massive. The real time information, traveling at the speed of light to billion(s) of informed and educated potential customers, consumers and investors around the globe, can very quickly take your company to higher levels of financial success or, on the flip side, simply cut it down to size forever.

The subject of this post, paradigm shift from Atoms to Bits, is not only complex but is very broad in nature and it’s not my intent to discuss it here at any great detail in this forum. However, I do intend to discuss two major changes that are taking place right under our noses… and directly impact our investment in companies like Microvision and Apple...

Change #1: Computer laptops are taking over and dominating the PC world. Every year the laptop adoption rates have grown dramatically over their desktop brethren. IDC predicts the number of worldwide mobile workers will reach 1 billion─ including nearly 75% of the U.S. workforce ─ by the end of 2011. Is your company prepared for this shift in the mobile workforce? Download this new report to see what IDC has to say about mobile worker population trends, forecasts and technology recommendations.

Here’ the link…,39024759,60431682p,00.htm

Notebook Computers: It is well known that the screen size [of billion strong mobile workforce using laptops] is one of the main determining factors in laptop form-factor design. Vendors and consumers alike are pulled in opposite directions: Make the computer smaller, but improve screen readability. Adding mobile projection allows for smaller form factor design while providing a large screen display when desired. The market size for pico projectors, therefore, is huge to the tune of over a billion units world-wide.

Change #2: We already know the ubiquitous nature of the Internet, the laptops and mobile phones around the world. However, what we may not know that there is yet another mega change taking place right under our noses…

The mobile phones have become ubiquitous globally on one hand… and on the other hand we have the smartphones taking market share from the mobile phones. The billion or so a year mobile phone market is giving way to the smartphones.

• Smartphones are rapidly replacing the classic mobile phones around the globe

“Worldwide mobile phone sales totalled 286.1 million units in the second quarter of 2009, a 6.1 per cent decrease from the second quarter of 2008, according to Gartner, Inc. Smartphones sales surpassed 40 million units, a 27 per cent increase from the same period last year, representing the fastest-growing segment of the mobile-devices market.”

Here’s the link to Gartner report…

"Smartphones sales were strong during the second quarter of 2009, with sales of 40.9 million units in line with Gartner's forecast of 27 per cent year-on-year sales growth for 2009," said Ms Milanesi. "Given the higher margins, smartphones offer the biggest opportunity for manufacturers. It is the fastest-growing market segment and the most resistant to declining ASPs."

Smartphones are feature rich mobile devices that consist of a mini-laptop with built-in mobile phone and connected to a service provider [carrier] via a broadband mobile network like the 3G. Smartphones are feature rich mobile phones and one of the key features that have plans to be offered in the high-end smartphones is a pico projector… as an accessory unit initially… followed by the embedded version in 2010. Future smartphones are expected to include, or offered as an option, a pico projector as a standard unit just like the digital camera is today.

It is my belief that in the coming short years all sorts of video devices and services will dominate our communications, collaboration, networking, entertainment and learning world.

• Pico projectors are being developed as an embedded feature in all things digital

The next popular categories that integrate pico projectors would be mobile computing [laptops] and communication [cell phones, smartphones] devices, and a whole range of multi-functional consumer electronic products such as personal media players [iPod], digital cameras, digital camcorders and Integrated Mobile TV/projectors.

Why pico projectors are such a rage all of a sudden… you may ask?

That’s a fair question and can be answered in four parts…

Part 1: Pico Projectors can add Big Screen Experience to Small Devices

Analyst, Cellular Devices, Mobile Consumer and Mobile Video Services, In-Stat: “As mobile devices add more multimedia capabilities, embedded pico projectors can add a big-screen experience to a very small device,” said David Chamberlain, Author of the report and Principal.

Part 2: Rapidly Evolving Illumination Technologies like LEDs and Green Lasers

In-Stat found that illumination technologies are rapidly and continuously evolving by the day with manufacturers able to produce and supply Light Emitting Diodes (LED’s) and green lasers, and that the demand for such gizmos integrated within other devices will be so huge that the volumes will easily drive down modular costs to the extent that Pico projectors will become part and parcel of relatively low cost cell phones, media players and other digital consumer electronic devices.

“Technological advances in miniaturization, signal processing, and light sources—including green laser—are making Pico projectors a realistic feature for small battery powered devices like cell phones, media players, computing devices, and other consumer electronics,” said Chamberlain.

Part 3: Powerful & Always Connected. Functions Rich Devices with Enhanced Visual Experience

Today, the mobile devices are ubiquitous and if you were to project out the current trends another ten years…

“You will be carrying with you, on a 24x7 basis, a very powerful, always connected, functions & sensor-rich device with enhanced visual experience… called the Smartphones. And the cool thing is, so will everyone else. So what are you going to do with it that you aren't doing now?

Before we consider the possibilities, let’s first address the ubiquity of the mobile devices and extrapolate the current trends towards the mobile phones of the future for everyone on this planet. In other words, the mobile phones of to-day will pave the path to ubiquity for Smartphones of tomorrow… and that tomorrow may be here as early as the next 10 years. And what’s good for smartphones of tomorrow is indeed good for pico projectors as an accessory of as an embedded unit.

Consider this…

• There are currently about 3.2 billion mobile subscribers in the world, and that number is expected to grow by at least a billion in the next few years.
• Today, mobile phones are more prevalent than cars (about 800 million registered vehicles in the world) and credit cards (only 1.4 billion of those).
• While it took 100 years for landline phones to spread to more than 80% of the countries in the world, their wireless descendants did it in only 16 years.
• Fewer teens are wearing watches now because they use their phones to tell time instead. So it's safe to say that the mobile phone may be the most productive and ubiquitous consumer product ever invented.
However, have you ever considered just exactly how powerful these ubiquitous devices are and if the current trends were to be extrapolated… what future mobile device will look like? Whatever the name [or logo] on the cover, under the hood these mobile phones of the future will be the smartphones that will be very smart [pun intended] and very powerful. Smartphones like “Blackberry” considered a business tool are now successfully targeting consumers. On the other hand, “iPhone” considered a consumer product is now targeting business customers. Some day, they may converge and pretty much offer the same power, functionality, connectivity, long battery life and ease of use etc.

As more and more consumers switch to smartphones globally, the Blackberry and iPhone are picking up market share at the expense of foreign competitors such as Nokia.

However, the good news is that the overall smartphones market is growing faster than ever. In 2008, a total of 1.2 billion mobile phones were sold worldwide, according to IDC, of which some 160 million were smartphones, or 13%. In 2013, IDC predicts that 20% of the 1.4 billion mobile phones sold will be smartphones, or 280 million.

Currently, we know what smartphones like Blackberry and iPhone offer. What we don’t know and, therefore, we can only speculate what additional functionality and features the future smartphones may offer. Here’s a list of what the future may hold in store for the consumers…

Here’s the link to my post on this very subject…

There is one paragraph from the post that I want you to read again…

Enhanced Visual Experience: Not too long ago, a mobile phone offered only a one-to-one viewing experience with little room for personalization and lacking the cool factor. Soon Microvision’s PicoP display engine technology will change the DNA of the phone, making it more visual, interactive and unique to the user. Taking this a step further, your cell phone will become a “one-to-many” tool, allowing us to share mobile content with groups of friends, family and colleagues. In the not-too-distant future, road warriors [the billion strong mobile workforces] will be showing presentations to a room full of colleagues via a projector accessory [SHOWwx] for their mobile phones. We have only begun to unleash the mobile visual experience.

Now, let’s take it a step further and gather some information from real life consumers that will eventually become user of enhanced communications products…

• Video vs. Other Forms of Communications: Research has shown that users prefer video communication over other forms of communication [sound, smell, touch] and video will continue to be the preferred means of all human communications.

• Users Preference for Image Quality: Research has shown that users prefer wide screen, high definition, 2D/3D video with fast refresh [without motion blur] and always in focus images for all forms of video [static, streaming, and broadcast] communications.

• User Preference for Mobility: The entire world [users and service providers] is getting into the instant gratification mode and going mobile in all forms of communications and entertainment across the globe.

• Product Features Leading to Technological Convergence: Technological convergence is the tendency for different technological systems to evolve towards performing similar tasks. Today, we are surrounded by a multi-level convergent media world where all modes of communication and information are continually reforming to adapt to the enduring demands of technologies, “changing the way we create, consume, entertain, learn and interact with each other”.

Convergence in this instance is defined as the interlinking of computing and other information technologies, media content and communication networks that have arisen as the result of the evolution and ubiquity of the Internet as well as the activities, products and services that have emerged in the digital media space.

• Customers Requirements: Customers desire all digital/video devices to be low power, low cost, multi-media enabled, multi-tasking, integrated & all inclusive, easy to use, low maintenance, professionally supported and warranty serviced.

• Consumer Defined Shared vs. Private Information: Consumers desire the option [in product models or optional features] or built-in switch able flexibility in these digital/video devices to be able to switch between “shared” vs. “private” mode.

Having established the huge market size [and consumer preferences] for pico projector lets move on to identifying the leading pico projection technology that hopes to fulfill the consumer needs…

Laser based Pico display technology is superior to what’s out there right now… like DLP by Texas Instruments, LcoS by 3M and FLCOS by Micron Displaytech. The competition believed that green lasers wouldn’t be ready for years and its cost would be excessive. They also had concerns about laser projection “speckle” and laser safety issues. It is for these reasons, in my opinion, that they did not pursue the laser pico display technology path and essentially left the laser Pico technology to Microvision un-contested.

Microvision on the other hand believed in the green lasers as being the differentiating technology that would make Pico display engine as superior to LED based Pico projection technology… and also as a serious contender, in terms of quality and brightness of images, to the lamp based projection technology.

There were several hic-ups along the way. However, after three years of hard work, anxious wait for green lasers and sweating it each passing day, and 115 issued patents later, the world’s first laser based PicoP projector was commercially launched on September 15th, 2009.

Not only that, another announcement was made [on October 8th] of a major OEM purchase order as a major milestone accomplished in the history of Microvision. The stakeholders of Microvision [investors, partners and consumers] can finally take comfort in this announcement as a milestone that…

“…validates the performance and quality of our first laser projector offering. On the heels of announcing our first shipments of the SHOWwx laser pico projector, and receiving the purchase order from an international distributor, this is another significant milestone in our go-to-market strategy.” ... Alex Tokman, CEO of Microvision.

To make the matter even more interesting, another announcement was made [on October 27th] of a purchase order from a World Leading Mobile Phone Operator…

Microvision Lands Order For SHOWWX Laser Pico Projectors With World Leading Mobile Phone Operator
Press Release
Source: Microvision, Inc.
On 6:30 am EDT, Tuesday October 27, 2009

REDMOND, Wash.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Microvision, Inc. (NASDAQ:MVIS - News), a global leader in innovative ultra-miniature projection display and image-capture products for mobility applications, announced today that it has received an initial purchase order from its European distributor for its SHOWWX™ laser-based pico projector to be sold by one of the world’s top mobile phone operators. The initial quantities of SHOWWX are expected to be deployed within the next month in Europe and at that time more details are expected to be provided by the mobile carrier.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome our first global mobile phone operator as a SHOWWX launch customer for 2009,” stated Alexander Tokman, Microvision President and CEO. “Carriers serve as the frontline to mobile subscribers and as a result often influence mobile handset designs to include new features that delight their customers and help achieve a broader subscriber base and higher revenue per user. We believe that interest from one of the three largest carriers in the world in this application and specifically in Microvision’s PicoP® laser projection technology is an important first step towards future accessory and embedded opportunities.”

Microvision’s Made for iPod® SHOWWX laser pico projector, based on the PicoP display engine, delivers a colorful, vivid “big screen” viewing experience from a device about the size of a mobile phone. Users of the SHOWWX can also connect to other portable media players, mobile phones and notebooks to spontaneously share movies, YouTube™, photos, presentations and more with their friends, family or business associates. The SHOWWX can project images up to 200 inches across, depending on the ambient lighting conditions, without the user ever having to adjust focus.


Here’s the link to press release…

We are truly at the turning point in the history of Microvision, that some may call the “validation” phase. Because, that’s what the commercial release and the three purchase orders from global consumer electronic OEMs and the World leading mobile phone operator represent as …

• Validation of Microvision’s laser based PicoP display engine technology, its quality, its reliability, and a viable commercial fabrication & production milestone.

• Validation of performance and quality of PicoP display engine at the core of the world’s first laser based PicoP projector SHOWwx.

• Validation of Corning's green laser technology, its reliability, and a viable commercial fabrication & production milestone.

• Validation of technical and performance superiority of laser based PicoP projector as compared to other two technologies on the market… like DLP from Texas Instruments and LcoS for 3M.

• Validation of consumer preference for Microvision’s PicoP projector: wide screen, high definition, longer battery life, 2D video with fast refresh without motion blur, small physical size and always in focus images for all of video [static, streaming, and broadcast] communications.

• Validation of acceptable safety standard for laser based PicoP projectors in consumer use and adoption.

• Validation of speckle as a non-issue and as virtually non-existent with Microvision’s laser based PicoP display engine.

• Validation of fundamental design flaws of Microvision competitors: low resolution images, faded colors, short battery runs, longer throw distance, and requiring constant manual focus adjustments.

• Validation of Microvision as a product company rather than just a R&D house with 115 issued patents and with many more on file.

• Validation of global consumer electronic OEMs recognizing laser based PicoP projectors as a viable and superior alternative to DLP, LcoS and FLOCS technology.

• Validation of growing demand for Pico projectors from carriers and content providers on a global basis.

• Validation of consumer demand for quality Pico projectors.

• Validation of growing demand for green lasers and the ensuing competition in green laser product arena.

Microvision is ready as a supplier of laser Pico projectors to consumers and Pico display engines to its OEM partners… and offers the best of breed Pico display technology.

Is Microvision ready for prime time SHOWwx time and worthy of your investment dollars, consider this…

Consider the RISK vs. REWARD:

First, read the transcript of the Report “The Next Big Thing”. There are 40 pages to this very well written report and will take you an hour or so to read… but it is well worth it. Here's the link...

After reading this report on Microvision stock opportunity, you will understand why the Risk vs. Reward is compelling and the stock remains a strong buy for over 100 fold increases in price per share (PPS) in the next 4 to 5 years… by the end of 2014.

Here’s why…
In any investment, it is very important to look at RISK vs. REWARD.

After having done considerable amount of research and analysis of Microvision, I would like to share the following conclusions [in a summary form]….

Stock Volatility: Over the last few weeks, both the “Historical Volatility” and “Implied Volatility” have come down gradually. Currently, the HV is 80 and the IV is 96. Looks like we now have more believers [long] than speculators [shorts] on board. Also, this stock is now part of Russell 2000/3000 and as such is subject to small cap market volatility… which has been coming down in recent weeks.

Volatility is unavoidable in small-cap investing. It can be a gut-wrenching, stress-inducing part of the small-cap investing experience, or it can be the grease that runs the profit machine. Where a 3% move in Microsoft or McDonald's would be out of the ordinary, good or bad news can routinely move small caps' share prices more than 10%. It can be tough for an investor to handle, but the determining factor is self-discipline.

• Determine your small-cap investment criteria

Small-cap investing has high -- yet manageable -- risk, at least when compared to value or income investing. Significant returns probably will not materialize early on in any individual investment. A conscious decision on one's small cap risk limit is essential. Those relying on investments for regular income should be extremely cautious with small-cap investing.

• Perform due diligence before pulling the trigger

Investors sometimes invest without understanding the company's business. Then, at the first sign of negative volatility, they finally scramble to look at the firm's financial statements. That's being reactive, not proactive. You need to understand a company before investing in it. If the stock happens to rally to unattractive levels while you're doing your research, you'll nonetheless be in a great position to buy when the stock inevitably dips. If the stock falls, you'll know more about the company and therefore be less prone to panic. Cognitive scientists have determined that uncertainty is one of the most stressful and painful emotional states. Prior due diligence reduces the element of surprise and is the most effective way of minimizing investment uncertainty.

• Due diligence does not only include checking the criteria for buying a stock. With rare exception, it should also include formulating the conditions for selling based on the stock's valuation. Because small-cap companies often have greater growth prospects than blue-chip companies, your reasons for selling a small-cap company are more apt to change

Stock Short Interest: Over the last few weeks, the short interest has gone up and now stands at 11% [8.38 million shares] of the float [63.19 million shares]. All in all, at the current low average volume per day, it will take about 10 days to cover… about 8.38 million shares short… trading 895,000 shares per day average over the last 3 months.

Stock Trading Range: For a period of four weeks [from September 21 to October 22] the stock traded over $5 in a very tight range of “$5.02 to $5.52”. We have seen some very volatile days on Wall Street in the last 10 days [from October 24 to November 4]… and the stock has come down to $3.70 and now seems to be holding at this level as a very strong support… and waiting for next announcement of news. The stock price has crossed under the 50 day moving average [at $4.50] and seems to have very strong support at $3.66 or so. This is where the stock price was before the commercial launch of SHOWwx [on September 15th] and three purchase orders in October. The reason for the stock price drop, in my opinion, is due mainly to the uncertainty associated with quantities of green lasers that are essential to fulfilling the three initial purchase orders.

Here’s the stock chart…

However, if you look at the P&F [point and figure] chart the stock is still in the uptrend channel with a “bullish price” of $8.31.,P&listNum=

Stock Holding: Institutions hold about 14.40% and the Insiders hold over 16.93% of the outstanding stock [63.19 million float on a fully diluted basis]. This means that over 68.67% of the float is held by retail investors. This is a very wide distribution of MVIS stock… a good sign for PPS support [during lean times] and PPS momentum [during good times] when institutions finally wake-up and come looking to take position in the MVIS stock directly… or decide to invest aggressively in small cap stocks indexed by Russell 2000/3000.

Short Term Risk [next four weeks]: Over the next four weeks [up until the announcement of the European mobile phone carrier] the stock PPS could trade in tight range of $3.65 to $3.80… but hopefully does not trade any lower than $3.37. This is the short term risk to PPS… mainly due to lack of news or release of any significant news over the next few weeks.

Mid Term Risk [next 2 Qtrs]: There is a very strong possibility that an additional OEM contract [and purchase order] and increased quantities of SHOWwx shipments will be announced on a monthly basis from hereon. In such a case, the PPS may just take-off to new highs for the year and not look back. As we know, there is more demand for Microvision’s pico projector SHOWwx than the supply of green lasers and that bodes well for the mid term future… as there could be monthly announcements of OEM contracts and agreements for rest of the year 2010.

Two of the supply chain issues could be “green laser cost” and “green laser volume production”. Feasibility and product development of the various PicoP display engine components is not an issue. The issue [if any] could be with the price and mass production of green lasers from Corning. The supply chain issue is real and has affected the full blown end of summer 2009 commercial product launch. The delay in large quantity shipments, however, may be short and you could see quick recovery in PPS… as the second green laser supplier Osram comes on board in the next few weeks.

Also, there is a strong possibility that the company may be selling some more shares to fund its short term cash flow needs beyond June 2010… in case there is cash flow short fall from sale of products and services. That’s the mid-term risk… but I will take it with a smile.

Long Term Risk [over 2 years]: If the company can fast track the volume production of PicoP display engines and SHOWwx laser projectors to a few million units a year [the good case scenario] or survives the “hostile” take-over attempt in the mid-term [precipitated as a result of major supply chain issues], there is no long term issue… because the market is huge and the company has leadership position in four (4) different product categories.

Reward: For those who understand the company’s — business model; the various products; the size [and the pull] of the captive world wide market— the rewards are phenomenal.

Five years from now in 2014, the stock could easily trade in the $300 to $500 range. Here’s an educated projection…

• Worldwide Market Size: 2 billion units [cell phones, laptops, smartphones, iPods, iPhones, camcorders, digital cameras, mobile TV/Projectors etc.]

• Worldwide Market Size: 1 billion units [wearable see thru displays]

• Market Adoption Rate: 10%... 300 million units

• Microvision Market share: 15% of 300 million units… 45 million units

• OEM price: $90 per PicoP display engine

• Revenue: $4 billion

• Net Profit Margin: 40%

• Net Profit: $1.6 billion

• EBITDA: Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortization: $1.5 billion [with operating expenses at $100 million]

• Interest Expense: $0 million

• Interest Income: $20 million

• Tax: $220million

• Depreciation: non cash and very small

• Amortization: non cash and very small

• Net Operating Income: $1.3 billion

• Earning Per Share: $13 on a fully diluted basis [100 million shares]

• Price Earning Ratio: 30 for a hyper growth company

• Price Per Share: $390 per share

In my book, the “Risk” is insignificant [may be 2% per year interest in treasury bills as the lost opportunity] as compared to the potential of making 100 times your money in the next year 4 to 5 years… and that is on top of 5 times the money you have already made if you aggressively bought MVIS stock [at 80 cents] when recommended in March 2009.

Alex Tokman, CEO of Microvision, said in his March 6th earnings conference call: "the market demand for PicoP display engines will be larger than the supply."

Here’s the link to Microvision web site…

This projection for 2014 could actually be low compared to the reality of the market place that will start to un-fold in the months ahead.

Anant Goel