You probably don't know it, but miniaturized radio frequency identification (RFID) chips are all around you. They follow your activity at gas pumps, cash registers, tollbooths, airports, retail stores -- even at hospitals.
And yet, the best play on this hot technology trend is a stock that gets little press and most investors have never heard of: Pasadena, Calif.-based Avery Dennison (AVY) - Get Report . With a market cap of $5.8 billion, Avery Dennison is the biggest and most innovative manufacturer of RFID tags. It belongs to a group of little-known technology stocks flying under the radar that are set to soar in coming months.
Avery Dennison's main business is far from sexy: The company manufactures and sells a wide variety of pressure-sensitive labels, packaging products, office supplies and "brand identification" materials. With operations in more than 50 countries, Avery Dennison provides basic materials without which the consumer goods sector couldn't function. As such, Avery Dennison stock also is a reliable cyclical play on recovery.
Back in 2004, this old-line but farsighted company anticipated the rapid growth of RFID applications and created a special division dedicated to the design, manufacturing and marketing of them. Avery Dennison says its RFID segment is now the world's largest manufacturer of ultra-high frequency RFID tags.
Management has said that it expects the company's RFID unit to see strong long-term growth. The unit should be a vehicle for the company to remain technologically competitive in an otherwise staid, slow-growth industry.
Companies, as well as the military, are clamoring for RFID tags. Recent retailer and government initiatives are further boosting their adoption, making the RFID market a good long-term technology play for investors.
RFID technology automatically identifies a "tagged" object by remotely retrieving and storing information from small transponders, or tags. Each tag, some as small as a grain of rice, features a built-in antenna that facilitates the transmission and reception of radio waves from an RFID transceiver.
Barcodes on Steroids
The use of RFID makes organizations more efficient, by allowing managers to locate any item, pallet or person with pinpoint accuracy. Think of them as barcodes on steroids.
Some analysts expect RFID tags to eventually replace many types of barcodes altogether, opening a vast potential market for these tiny but ultra-sophisticated devices. Anything or anyone that needs to be tracked presents a potential RFID application.
RFID adoption is accelerating. Major retailer Walmart uses them in the supply chain. Saudi Arabia has outfitted RFID tags to the sheikdom's bank notes to prevent counterfeiting, a practice that other countries are now adopting. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved RFID tags for implantation within the human body, paving the way for their use in medical treatment and pharmaceutical testing.
According to the technology consultancy IDTechEx, the value of the entire RFID market will reach $10.1 billion in 2015, up from $7.5 billion in 2012 and $6.4 billion in 2011.
RFID sales accounted for about $150 million of Avery Dennison's $6.3 billion in revenue in 2014, but management has said RFID sales should grow 10% to 20% a year through 2018.
Avery Dennison reported third-quarter adjusted earnings per share of 87 cents, up from 77 cents a year earlier. EPS also beat the analyst consensus of 84 cents, a positive earnings surprise. The average 12-month price target from analysts who cover the company is $70.17, higher than the current price of about $62.50. The dividend yield is a healthy 2.4%.
Despite these attractive growth prospects, the stock trades at a trailing 12-month price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of about 20, roughly in line with major competitors 3M and Bemis.
Now reasonably priced, Avery Dennison's stock is poised to reap the benefits of the unstoppable demand for RFID.
We have found a small-cap tech stock that has the potential to surge 100% or more in the coming months. This is a growth story with major momentum, so it's important to learn the full details as soon as possible. The stock is trading under $8 a share, and its long-term prospects have never been better, making it a great value. I expect this rocket could take off soon, so be sure to click here now and learn more.
John Persinos is editorial manager and investment analyst at Investing Daily. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.