In a few years RFID technology will be ubiquitous. Wal-Mart has already announced that it is going to require that its top 100 suppliers deliver RFID tagged products by 2005. By the end of 2006, that requirement will be extended to all of their products. It was recently reported that the U.S. Department of Defense plans to ask its top 100 suppliers to put RFID tags on pallets, cases and big-ticket items. The military intends to spell out its plans in detail sometime next summer, but it is believed that tagging could begin in 2005.
Currently, the most common applications for RFID technology include tracking goods in the supply chain and parts as they move through a manufacturing production line. It is being used to track both hard and soft assets. It is also being used in security applications to control access to buildings and networks and in payment systems that let customers pay for items without using cash. It is being used to track cows and pets.
The technology is not without controversy, however, as there are many individuals who are justifiably concerned about privacy issues. I will be posting some articles that address this issue.
This has been a hot niche that will become much hotter if Alien Technology ever files for an IPO. It has already seen two pump-and-dumps (ADSX and NCPT) and at least one reverse merger (AIDO). As the sector heats up, I would expect to see more reverse mergers from smaller companies that have a specific application. Two of the major long-term players are Zebra Technologies (ZBRA) and Symbol Technologies (SBL), though they are not pure plays. I have attached a sample portfolio to the thread. Please feel free to suggest additions.
If you have any technical questions about the technology, I am not the guy to ask. I am not an engineer.
As defined by the RFID Journal, “Radio frequency identification, or RFID, is a generic term for technologies that use radio waves to automatically identify individual items. There are several methods of identifying objects using RFID, but the most common is to store a serial number that identifies a product, and perhaps other information, on a microchip that is attached to an antenna (the chip and the antenna together are called an RFID transponder or an RFID tag). The antenna enables the chip to transmit the identification information to a reader. The reader converts the radio waves returned from the RFID tag into a form that can then be passed on to computers that can make use of it.”
The share price for the individual stocks included in the portfolio are as of May 30, 2003, immediately prior to the Wal-Mart announcement that they were requiring their top vendors to become RFID compliant. Companies with share value below $1 were weighted with shares valued at approximately $50; companies with a share value in excess of $1 were weighted with shares valued at approximately $100.