By 2015, it is expected that the Federal Aviation Administration will begin to allow commercial unmanned flying vehicles, commonly know as drones, to operate within the U.S. airspace. That means there is potential for many publicly-traded companies to boost their revenues as drones take to the skies for security, logistical, and information-gathering purposes.
Right now, private drone operations are limited to hobbyists that can operate with a ceiling of 400 feet. But that’s going to change in 2015, and it’s going to create a whole new industry. With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the companies whose stocks could be great investments for the future of drone technology.
The twenty-year veterans
Defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) is one of the biggest providers of unmanned systems for the United States as well as governments around the world. The company’s RQ-4 Global Hawk has been flying since 1998. The newer X-47B and MQ-4C Triton are surveillance and reconnaissance vehicles that are a part of the U.S. government’s long-term plans.
This means that Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC), despite the budget reductions taking place within the Defense Department, should be able to capitalize on its experience. Indeed, the company has seen no significant revenue drop quarter over quarter, and it should be able to drum up new contracts in the growing drone market even as older ones expire. The company has been working on unmanned systems for almost twenty years at this point; therefore, anyone who wants to get involved in drone systems will want to work with them.
The company looking for another home run
Yep, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) is on this list. Seems strange? Well, given the fact that Google’s venture capital arm invested in Airware, which is software for controlling smaller-scale drones, it isn’t all that weird. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has a vested interest in drones — whether they are in the sky, on the road in the form of a driverless car system or in developing advanced maps with the aid of some unmanned help.
Think about Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s investment in Airware the same way that the company approached Android. Google wants to help build platforms that customers will use, which they will then monetize. Android has had 750 million total activations so far – and the more users, the more ways to monetize. This will happen with drone technology and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)will find ways to profit. They can’t rely on advertising alone — if the company wants to continue making huge profits every quarter they’ll need another home run business.
Drones with blades
A dominating force in small aircraft with Bell Helicopters and the Cessna series of small airplanes, Textron Inc. (NYSE:TXT) is uniquely prepared for the coming onslaught of drones filling the skies. It already has a ton of aviation experience that it can pair with a burgeoning drone business. Its revenue numbers are down a bit, and it is surely looking into developing commercial unmanned vehicles.