Bank of America Picks 10 Key Stocks to Watch as Robots Take Over the World

Health, industrial automation sectors set to benefit most

Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloomberg

The global market for intelligent machines is set to more than triple to $153 billion by 2020, says Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch, which has pinpointed companies particularly poised to ride the robotics wave. 

“Robots and AI are becoming an integral part of our daily lives as providers of labor, mobility, safety, convenience, and entertainment,” strategists in London led by Beijia Ma wrote in a note dated Nov. 3. “Demographics, energy efficiency, productivity, urbanization, and wage inflation suggest long-term sustained growth.”

Bank of America expects robots to be performing 45% of manufacturing tasks by 2025, versus 10 percent today. Driven by China, 2014 was the third consecutive year for record sales of robots worldwide -- a jump of 29 percent, BofA said. This amounted to $10.7 billion in sales, while the overall robot systems market, including software, peripherals and systems engineering is now valued at $32 billion.

Among more than 200 companies Bank of America identified as set to benefit from the rise in robotics, health-care and industrial automation are currently the only industries with particularly high exposure -- robot & AI-related technologies, services, and solutions are core to the business model, strategy and R&D of the company, for example. However, the bank sees fast growth in other areas, including agri-bots, commercial and military drones, fin-tech, self-driving cars, service robots and software. Here they are:

Health care:

California-based Intuitive Surgical Inc.

Industrial automation:

Switzerland’s ABB Ltd.

Japan’s Fanuc Corp., Mitsubishi Electric Corp., Yaskawa Electric Corp., Nabtesco Corp. and Omron Corp.

U.S. firm Rockwell Automation Inc.

China’s Shenzhen Inovance Technology Co. Ltd.,

India’s ABB India Ltd.

There are some risks. Bank of America anticipates issues around cyber security, and privacy, “and longer-term existential threats being posed by AI (killer robots).”

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