Feds to Feed RFID to Travelers

When our World Cup of Investing finally concluded at the end of June, I learned that Dodge & Cox International Stock (FUND: DODFX  ) , a Motley Fool Champion Funds selection, held a modest position in German chipmaker Infineon (NYSE: IFX  ) .

Frankly, I didn't really understand why at the time. Infineon has historically bled cash and has profitable competitors in STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM  ) and Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD  ) . In the last 12 months alone, Infineon has reported more than $330 million in net losses.

Well, a change could finally be in the works. On Monday, Infineon reported that its chips featuring radio frequency identification technology, or RFID, would be used in "several million" U.S. passports. The Feds decided about a week ago to begin issuing RFID-enabled passports; 15 million citizens are expected to receive the new documents in the first year of the program.

Privacy and security concerns aside -- and there are several, such as how to prevent a hacker from wirelessly stealing data using a laptop and Wi-Fi connection placed near passport control -- Infineon could benefit hugely from the program and others like it.

No, really. Norway, Sweden, and home country Germany have already agreed to use Infineon's chips for electronic passports, which host personal data and the holder's picture in a digital file that can be read by a scanner. In addition, Infineon says that there are some 900 million passports globally, with 125 million exchanged annually.

Could that be a big enough opportunity to get Infineon back in the black? That's hard to say, but a superior value investor such as Bryan Cameron, who is atop the team that leads Dodge & Cox International, wouldn't invest simply on blind faith. It's more likely that his team understands that the market for RFID tags, transponders, and equipment is projected to reach into the tens of billions within a decade, and that Infineon is suddenly well-positioned to earn a tasty slice of that business. Color me equally intrigued.

Your passport to related Foolishness awaits:

Dodge & Cox International is just one of many superior performers in Shannon Zimmerman'sMotley Fool Champion Fundsportfolio, which is up an average of 18% versus just 10% for their comparable benchmarks.Ask us for anall-access passto get an unfettered look at all of Shannon's picks, manager interviews, and model portfolios.Go ahead; it's free for 30 days and there's no obligation to buy.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers wonders when RFID will produce a real Rule Breaker. Get the skinny on all of the rebellious stocks in Tim's portfolio by checking his Fool profile. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy is among the jet set.


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