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2 Laser Systems Stocks to Watch in a Challenging Industry

The Zacks Laser Systems and Components industry is suffering from challenging macroeconomic conditions globally, weak economic conditions in Europe and a sluggish economic environment in China. Continued economic uncertainty with low PMI numbers in Europe, North America and Japan is impacting industrial demand and capital investments. However, industry participants like Lumentum Holdings LITE and MicroVision MVIS benefit from upbeat demand from electric vehicles, electronics, semiconductors and healthcare end-markets. Robust demand for high-power continuous wave and pulsed laser for cutting and battery-processing applications, growing demand for high-performance optical devices, and the ongoing proliferation of Generative AI, cloud computing, autonomous driving, IoT and 5G are the key catalysts.

Industry Description

The Zacks Laser Systems and Components industry comprises companies offering high-performance fiber lasers, fiber amplifiers and diode lasers, optical and photonic products, and scanning technology solutions. The key end markets are semiconductors, metrology, advanced communication and medical devices. Industry participants also provide high-precision 3D sensors and system products for inspection and metrology. Moreover, in the medical devices space, laser and other energy-based aesthetic treatments can achieve therapeutic results by affecting structures within the skin. Developing safe and effective aesthetic treatments has resulted in a well-established market for these procedures. The industry also operates in the cyclical surface mount technology and semiconductor capital equipment markets.

3 Laser Systems & Components Industry Trends to Watch

Emerging Applications Driving Demand for Lasers: The industry is benefiting from increasing demand for emerging applications like additive manufacturing, facial recognition, gesture recognition, LiDAR applications and IoT. Advanced lasers, especially those with 3D sensing (3DS) capabilities, are enhancing interactions using technology. Notably, 3DS — the technology that allows users to create 3D printable objects, control games with body gestures and measure objects — is in high demand.

Laser-IoT Combination Supports Efficiency: As industries are increasingly adopting automation techniques, combining lasers with IoT improves operating efficiency. IoT-supported manufacturing equipment is far easier to update with firmware. The combination reduces costs and increases the flexibility and reliability manifold by enabling material-handling capabilities through remote sources. Strong demand from semiconductor and allied markets, which are seeing a rapid shift toward the production of micro and nano devices, is another positive for industry participants.

Challenging Macroeconomic Condition Hurts Prospect: Industry participants suffer from sluggish capital spending by original equipment manufacturers. Moreover, persistent inflation, energy headwinds in Europe and weakness in China are expected to hurt industry participants in the near term.

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Zacks Industry Rank Indicates Dim Prospects

The Zacks Laser Systems and Components industry is housed within the broader Zacks Computer and Technology sector. It carries a Zacks Industry Rank #240, which places it in the bottom 4% of more than 250 Zacks industries.

The group’s Zacks Industry Rank, which is the average of the Zacks Rank of all the member stocks, indicates bearish near-term prospects. Our research shows that the top 50% of the Zacks-ranked industries outperform the bottom 50% by a factor of more than two to one.

Despite the lackluster outlook, there are a few stocks worth watching in the industry. But before we present the top industry picks, it is worth looking at the industry’s shareholder returns and current valuation first.

Industry Underperforms Broader Sector and S&P 500

The Zacks Laser Systems and Components industry has underperformed the broader Zacks Computer and Technology sector and the S&P 500 composite over the past year.

The industry has declined 27.3% over this period against the S&P 500’s rise of 26.4% and the broader sector’s growth of 39.3%.

One-Year Price Performance

Industry's Current Valuation

On the basis of the trailing 12-month P/S, which is a commonly used multiple for valuing Laser Systems and Components stocks, we see that the industry is currently trading at 6.36X compared with the S&P 500’s 4.06X. It is also trading above the sector’s trailing 12-month P/S of 5.51X.

Over the last five years, the industry has traded as high as 12.64X and as low as 3.96X, with a median of 6.34X, as the charts below show:

Trailing 12-Month Price-to-Sales (P/S) Ratio

2 Laser Stocks to Watch

Lumentum: This San Jose, CA-based company benefits from an expanding portfolio. Its innovative product pipeline, which includes new 1.6 terabit intra-data center optical transceivers, optical switching products, and 800G coherent pluggables, is expected to improve its footprint in the data center interconnect market.

Lumentum’s expanding manufacturing capacity is expected to help it address cloud customers’ strong demand. A strong partner base is noteworthy.

LITE shares have lost 10.7% year to date. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company’s fiscal 2024 earnings has declined 7.5% to 99 cents per share over the past 30 days. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Price & Consensus: LITE

 

 

MicroVision: Redmond, WA-based MicroVision is a well-known provider of MEMS-based solid-state automotive lidar technology and ADAS solutions. The stock has declined 54.7% in the year-to-date period.

MicroVision benefits from a diversified portfolio. It offers multiple technology nodes, with highest resolutions, smallest form factor LiDAR with its MEMS-based long-range MAVIN, as well as small form factor short-range sequential flash-based MOVIA LiDAR product lines.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for MVIS’ 2024 loss has been unchanged at 49 cents per share in the past 30 days. MicroVision currently has a Zacks Rank #3.

Price & Consensus: MVIS



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