Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly transforming how companies operate and provide services. As AI continues to evolve, its integration across industries is expected to drive strong growth for companies specializing in this technology.
For investors, AI stocks offer an opportunity to capitalize on the AI revolution. However, not all AI stocks represent wise investments. Factors like financial fundamentals, growth prospects, and investment risk must be evaluated.
This article explores five of the top AI stocks that show promise for long-term growth. We’ll examine their financial metrics, competitive advantages, and growth drivers that could make them compelling additions to investment portfolios aimed toward the future.
What is AI and How Will it Impact Stocks?
Artificial intelligence refers to computer systems and machines that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence. AI relies on technologies like machine learning and deep learning to improve at tasks through experience and data analysis.
As AI continues to advance, its applications are expanding across industries:
- Retailers use AI for customer segmentation, marketing automation, and supply chain optimization.
- Healthcare providers leverage AI for improved diagnostics through pattern recognition.
- Financial institutions implement AI for fraud detection, risk assessment, and trading strategies.
- Manufacturers utilize AI on production lines and for predictive maintenance.
- Technology companies integrate AI into products and services to improve experiences.
The growth in AI adoption is reflected in market size projections. According to Grand View Research, the global AI market is expected to reach $1.81 trillion by 2030, expanding at a 38% CAGR.
For investors, the rising importance of AI translates into significant opportunities. Companies specializing in AI software, services, and hardware are positioned for strong growth as demand increases across sectors. Investing in these AI leaders could offer market-beating returns.
However, risks are also inherent with AI stocks. Many AI companies are young with unproven track records. High growth expectations could also lead to stretched valuations. Due diligence is required to identify AI stocks that offer an optimal balance of growth and stability.
How to Evaluate Promising AI Stocks
When analyzing AI stocks, key aspects to evaluate include:
Competitive Position – The company’s market share, product differentiation, and barriers to entry against rivals. Market leaders with distinct products command stronger growth prospects.
Financial Performance – Revenue growth, profitability margins, cash flow generation, and balance sheet strength. These indicate commercial success and staying power.
Growth Drivers – End-market outlooks, new product launches, and strategic partnerships that can catalyze growth. Expanding addressable markets and new initiatives signal room for expansion.
Management Execution – Track record of performance, capital allocation decisions, and strategic vision. A capable leadership team is better positioned to capitalize on AI growth.
Investment Risks – Potential regulatory impacts, customer concentration, debt levels, and stock valuation relative to growth. Higher risks require higher expected returns.
With these factors in mind, here are five promising AI stocks to buy now for long-term growth.
1. Nvidia (NVDA)
Nvidia is a leader in visual computing technologies for gaming, professional visualization, data centers, and automotive markets. The company is now leveraging its strength in advanced graphics processing units (GPUs) to drive leadership in AI computing.
Nvidia’s GPUs excel at the massively parallel processing required for deep learning applications. The company has pivoted to position its GPU platform for AI workloads through the Nvidia CUDA software framework.
According to the Nvidia DGX AI survey, 61% of organizations use Nvidia GPUs for AI, versus 25% for the next vendor. Nvidia also offers end-to-end AI solutions, combining its GPUs with optimized AI software through platforms like Nvidia AI Enterprise.
- clear leader in AI-focused GPUs with 75% discrete GPU share.
- CUDA software framework benefits from network effects.
- partnerships with major cloud providers like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google to power their AI offerings.
- revenue of $26.9 billion in FY 2022, up 61% YoY.
- gross margin expanded to 67.0% in FY 2022 from 64.9% in FY 2021.
- EPS has grown at a 32% CAGR over the past five years.
- secular growth in gaming and rising metaverse opportunities.
- surging demand for AI computing power in the cloud.
- autonomous driving adoption requiring AI-powered visual processing.
- expanding Omniverse platform for 3D design collaboration.
- integration of planned Arm acquisitions faces uncertainty on regulatory clearance.
- GPU supply tightness may limit near-term upside.
- competitors like AMD gaining discrete GPU market share.
Backed by its technology leadership in AI computing, Nvidia offers exposure to immense growth runways. With strong execution and expanding end markets, NVDA stock appears primed for robust returns over the long-term.
2. Microsoft (MSFT)
As a tech titan, Microsoft is diversified across software, hardware, and cloud services for both enterprise and consumer segments. The company has also emerged as a major player in the AI space.
Microsoft AI consists of AI capabilities embedded across the company’s offerings, along with advanced development tools for enterprises and startups. The Azure public cloud provides extensive AI Compute power combined with Machine Learning and Cognitive Services APIs.
Azure’s open AI service OpenAI Service allows developers to tap into OpenAI’s powerful AI models, like GPT-3. Microsoft has further enhanced Azure’s differentiation in AI through the acquisition of AI speech recognition pioneer Nuance.
- #2 in cloud computing behind AWS, with 21% market share per Canalys.
- early mover advantage in offering integrated cloud AI services.
- mature AI strengths with assets like Bing search.
- revenue of $198 billion in FY 2022, up 18% YoY.
- net income margins consistently above 30% over past decade.
- $104 billion in cash and short-term investments.
- cloud growth as digital transformation continues across enterprises.
- expanding Azure AI and machine learning capabilities.
- growth in Power Platform and Dynamics 365 for business efficiency.
- gaming growth through Xbox ecosystem.
- fierce competition from AWS and other cloud vendors.
- challenges in diversifying away from the Windows monopoly.
- potential for missteps in balancing consumer and enterprise focus.
With leadership across software, cloud, and AI, Microsoft is strongly aligned with key technology trends for the next decade. While not a pure-play AI stock, MSFT provides investors exposure to AI growth combined with the stability of a diversified tech leader.
3. Alphabet (GOOG)
Alphabet is the parent company of tech subsidiaries including Google, Waymo, and DeepMind. The company has invested heavily in AI capabilities to improve its offerings and pioneer new innovations.
Google infuses AI across its services like Search, Maps, Translate, and YouTube to optimize the user experience. The company has also unveiled AI feats like the AlphaGo system surpassing human-level performance in complex games, demonstrating its deep learning expertise.
Meanwhile, Waymo is advancing AI for autonomous driving, while DeepMind focuses on cutting-edge AI research. Acquisitions like smart home device maker Nest also expand Alphabet’s reach in AI-powered devices and services.
- entrenched leadership with Google in search, maps, and online video.
- Waymo is the market leader in autonomous driving technology.
- DeepMind is at the frontier of AI research.
- revenues of $282 billion in 2022, up 41% YoY.
- net income up 35% YoY to $76 billion in 2022.
- robust 28% net income margins.
- Search and YouTube benefiting from surge in online activity and advertising.
- maturing monetization potential for Maps, Shopping, and Cloud.
- Waymo’s autonomous driving technology is nearing commercialization.
- AI-led innovations across existing and new segments.
- advertising spending was impacted by macroeconomic slowdown.
- competition from Amazon and niche vertical search engines.
- high regulatory oversight across Alphabet’s businesses.
Alphabet is a compelling stock for long-term growth due to its impeccable financial standing and prolific AI-powered innovation. The company is poised to maintain dominance across its core ad-driven businesses while pushing new frontiers with emerging segments like Waymo.
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4. IBM (IBM)
IBM has been focused on AI and cognitive computing for years through its Watson platform. The company has evolved Watson from beating champions on Jeopardy! to enterprise-scale AI.
IBM Watson provides businesses with pre-built AI models and applications for functions like chatbots, language translation, speech recognition, and visual recognition. Watson capabilities are offered through the cloud and on-premises installations.
IBM further advanced its AI leadership by acquiring open-source machine learning platform Red Hat in 2019 for $34 billion. This allows IBM to provide scalable AI solutions across hybrid cloud environments. IBM Consulting also helps enterprises strategize and implement AI.
- early mover status, establishing credibility in enterprise AI.
- Watson is already embedded across industries like healthcare and financial services.
- Red Hat acquisition expanded ability to run AI across hybrid clouds.
- generated net income of $3.7 billion on $60 billion in revenue in 2022.
- revenue declined in 2022 but is improving with cloud growth.
- annual FCF generation, averaging $11 billion over past decade.
- new Watson capabilities, like Watson Orchestrate, to automate work.
- partnerships like those with Siemens to apply AI to industrial settings.
- expanding industry use cases, e.g., clinical decision support in healthcare.
- legacy hardware and software businesses face decline.
- heavy competition from cloud vendors’ AI offerings.
- possibility of higher investment needs to support strategic shifts.
While not the fastest growing, IBM offers a seasoned approach to investing in AI. Its enterprise focus and deep expertise serve as competitive differentiators in the space. With new management revamping its direction,IBM could experience a turnaround thanks to the adoption of AI under new management.
5. Appen (APEN)
Based in Australia, Appen is a more speculative AI stock compared to the tech titans discussed earlier. However, its niche focus presents potential for outsized growth.
Appen provides the high-quality training data and annotation services required for AI applications using human crowdsourcing. Its skilled global crowd, optimized for over 180 languages and dialects, differentiates it from competitors.
Appen serves marquee technology and automotive companies developing AI-based products. Growth runways include autonomous vehicles, smartphone assistants, and speech recognition.
- market leader in training data and AI annotation services.
- strong expertise in speech and natural language for AI models.
- long-term relationships with blue-chip customers like Microsoft, Google, and BMW.
- $443 million in revenue in 2021 with 13% 3-year CAGR.
- adjusted EBITDA margins doubled from 3% to 6% over 2018-2021 period.
- adequate liquidity with $114 million in cash.
- secular tailwinds as training data demand rises with AI adoption.
- increased use of crowdsourcing vs. in-house data labeling efforts.
- new capabilities, like data validation services for model monitoring.
- relies heavily on big tech customer concentration.
- trades at premium valuation with 2021 P/S ratio of 6x.
Appen offers a niche exposure to AI, centered on the vital training data component. With the AI market still in its early innings, Appen has room to capitalize on this high-growth area as it continues to gain expertise and expand its crowdsourced data platform.
Key Takeaways on the Top AI Stocks
The AI revolution is in its early stages, with massive growth runways ahead as adoption increases across industries. AI-focused stocks with disruptive technologies and competitive strengths are primed to deliver standout growth.
However, prudent investment principles still apply for AI stocks. Seeking companies with solid financials, reasonable valuations, and proven execution can help balance growth potential with appropriate risk management.
The stocks profiled here run the gamut from AI leaders like Nvidia and Microsoft to more concentrated plays like Appen. Their financial metrics, growth outlooks, and competitive positions within AI make them compelling choices to consider adding to portfolios aiming to benefit from AI’s rise.
Just as AI itself is still evolving, investors should also take an adaptive approach to AI stocks. Tracking developments across this dynamic sector can reveal new opportunities as technology breakthroughs emerge and market leaders cement their positioning.
Maintaining a long-term focus, an informed perspective, and a selective stock-picking approach can help investors harness AI’s wealth-generating capacity over the coming decade and beyond. The AI revolution has only just begun.
To Recap: Evaluating Risks and Reward Potentials in AI Stocks
Artificial intelligence has clearly demonstrated its ability to drive business efficiencies and create new opportunities across sectors. AI stocks with strong exposure to this transformative force appear poised for robust growth.
However, investing in AI also warrants a thorough evaluation of risk factors:
- High growth expectations may inflate valuations and magnify volatility, requiring patience to ride out fluctuations.
- Many AI companies remain unprofitable currently, relying on top line growth to eventually translate into bottom line returns.
- Development costs and intense competition could challenge smaller AI players’ staying power if growth stalls.
- Larger rivals with extensive resources may edge out emerging AI innovators.
- Regulatory uncertainties persist around data privacy, algorithmic bias, and AI ethics.
To balance the upside potential with these inherent risks, investors should deploy proper strategic positioning when adding AI stocks to their portfolios:
- Review company fundamentals to favor financially sound businesses. Avoid overpaying for hype without substance.
- Diversify across AI niches like chips, software, cloud, and services rather than overexposure to a single domain.
- Monitor the competitive landscape for threats as well as opportunities.
- Limit position sizes for speculative AI bets while allocating more significantly to proven leaders.
- Maintain a long-term outlook, as AI growth trajectories may take years to fully develop.
The AI-driven transformation of the technology sector shows no signs of slowing down. While selecting the right stocks requires diligent analysis, companies spearheading AI innovations seem destined to garner expanding market shares as the technology proliferates.
Forward-looking investors stand well-positioned to reap the rewards of the AI revolution. By taking a judicious and strategic approach, AI investments could pay off handsomely over the long run.
In another related article, How to Invest in Stocks on Cash App: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners
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