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Why Shares of FLIR Systems Are Up Today

By Lou Whiteman – Updated Apr 22, 2020 at 7:30AM

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Amazon is using thermal cameras to help screen for COVID-19 cases in its warehouses.

Editor's note: The Reuters report referenced in this article states that "Amazon did not disclose whose gadgets it was using." This article has been updated.

What happened

Shares of FLIR Systems (FLIR) gained more than 14% on Monday after news broke that Amazon.com is using thermal cameras at its warehouses to screen for workers who might have fevers, a tell-tale symptom of COVID-19. Screening is a huge potential market for FLIR's equipment, and Amazon's use of the cameras -- though it is unknown which cameras it is using -- is viewed as a strong endorsement of the tech, which could benefit the company.

So what

Thermal cameras that measure the amount of heat emitted by an object relative to its surroundings are in use at Amazon warehouses in Los Angeles and Seattle, according to a Reuters report. The cameras, according to the report, are seen as superior to forehead thermometers because they require less time and less contact.

The Lincoln Memorial from an infrared camera.

Image source: FLIR Systems.

Reuters said the cameras will soon replace thermometers at worker entrances to many Amazon-owned Whole Foods stores as well.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a fresh emphasis on workplace safety, and it seems likely that on-the-job screening for fevers and other health indicators could become commonplace in the U.S. post-pandemic. FLIR seems well positioned to capture significant additional business thanks to that trend.

Now what

FLIR's cameras right now are primarily used in airports, ports of entry, and public facilities. A move into warehouses and other private-employee workplaces could represent a huge boost to the company's addressable market, and over time generate real growth for the $1.8 billion-sales company.

That's going to take some time, and investors need to be careful not to get ahead of themselves, but given FLIR shares are down more than 25% year to date even after Monday's jump, the surge higher seems justified. FLIR could find itself with a lot of new business opportunities in a post-pandemic world.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Lou Whiteman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon and recommends the following options: short January 2022 $1940 calls on Amazon and long January 2022 $1920 calls on Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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