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Investing in Internet of Things Stocks

By Timothy Green – Updated Jun 8, 2022 at 12:56PM

Computers and smartphones aren’t the only devices connecting to the internet. Everyday objects such as lights, televisions, major appliances, cars, and even doorbells are being brought online. The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the networks of devices and objects that communicate with other devices in the same network via connections to data centers.

While there is plenty of overlap among general technology, cloud computing, and the IoT, pure-play IoT companies are relatively rare. Any company that makes consumer electronics devices or sensors or chips for industrial or commercial purposes has at least some exposure to IoT technology. Software platforms that manage IoT devices and cloud computing companies are also engaged with the IoT sector.

What is the Internet of Things?

Internet of Things refers to the online network of devices and objects that communicate with each other.
Source: The Motley Fool

Top IoT stocks

These five top IoT stocks range from a diversified tech giant to a pure-play IoT company:

IoT Stock Market Capitalization Description
Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) $233 billion The leading provider of enterprise networking hardware.
Alarm.com (NASDAQ:ALRM) $3.4 billion A cloud-based platform for managing connected home and business devices.
Dexcom (NASDAQ:DXCM) $41 billion A maker of glucose monitoring medical devices.
Impinj (NASDAQ:PI) $1.7 billion A maker of radio-frequency identification (RFID) products.
Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) $196 billion Manufactures data center chips and IoT chips and also owns Mobileye.

Source: Company websites. Data current as of March 3, 2022.

1. Cisco Systems

Cisco Systems is the leading provider of enterprise networking hardware. Because its products form the backbone of the internet, the tech giant benefits from the explosion of internet-enabled devices.

Cisco sells networking hardware designed for handling large numbers of connected devices, including rugged, durable products aimed at industrial applications. On the software side, Cisco provides the Cisco Kinetic platform and other tools for managing IoT data and devices.

Cisco is also one of the largest cybersecurity companies. The company offers hardware, software, and services aimed at securing networks against threats, including those specifically targeting IoT systems.

Cisco is a low-risk way of investing in IoT. The company is supremely profitable, having generated adjusted net income of $13.6 billion on revenue of $49.8 billion in fiscal 2021. The company is sensitive to global economic conditions given that its customer base includes many large companies, organizations, and governments. However, investing in the stock is a good way to gain exposure to IoT without taking big risks.

This sensitivity to economic conditions played out during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the company experiencing a pause in demand from some customers as they grappled with economic uncertainty. However, Cisco has now returned to growth, and it should benefit from some pent-up demand.

The pandemic put pressure on Cisco’s sales, but the long-term story hasn’t changed. Cisco remains as dominant as ever, and the company is poised to benefit from the growth of the IoT market.

2. Alarm.com

While Cisco’s market cap exceeds tens of billions of dollars, cloud software provider Alarm.com is valued at just a few billion. Its relatively small size makes it riskier than the tech giant, but the company has plenty of growth potential.

Alarm.com provides a cloud-based software platform for managing a connected home or business. Subscribers use the software to manage internet-enabled devices, including security cameras, lights, locks, thermostats, and a range of other supported products.

Alarm.com partners with service providers to sell its platform to consumers and businesses. The company currently works with almost 11,000 service providers and has more than 8.4 million subscribers, and its platform connects more than 100 million devices. Revenue was up 21% in 2021 to $749 million, and the company was profitable.

Alarm.com’s total market opportunity today is $52 billion, split evenly between the smart home and commercial markets. With only a small fraction of homes currently using Alarm.com’s platform, the IoT company has a long growth runway.

The pandemic initially created some challenges for Alarm.com. Social distancing guidelines led many of its service provider partners to have trouble selling and installing systems early in the pandemic, with installation rates dropping once stay-at-home orders were put in place. That situation has been resolved, and growth is back on track.

The pandemic hasn’t stopped the smart home trend. With millions of subscribers, Alarm.com is an early leader.

3. Dexcom

The Internet of Things goes far beyond consumer devices. Dexcom is focused on diabetes management, specifically medical devices for continuous glucose monitoring. The company’s G6 system includes an auto-applicator, a sensor and transmitter, and a touchscreen receiver displaying real-time glucose data. Compatible smartphones and smartwatches can also be used to display data.

The number of people in the U.S. with diagnosed diabetes grew from 1.58 million in 1958 to 23.35 million in 2015, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control. Today, more than 37 million Americans have diabetes, and 96 million American adults have prediabetes.

Dexcom estimates that market penetration for continuous glucose monitoring for people on intensive insulin therapy is 35% to 40% for type 1 diabetes and just 15% for type 2 diabetes.

The combination of growing rates of diabetes and the transition to continuous glucose monitoring will give Dexcom plenty of growth opportunities in the coming years. In 2021, its revenue grew 27% to $2.45 billion.

The pandemic didn’t derail Dexcom’s growth despite plenty of early uncertainty. For 2022, the company expects revenue to grow between 15% and 20%.

People with underlying medical conditions, including type 2 diabetes, are at higher risk of developing severe cases of COVID-19. This could prompt more people to turn to continuous glucose monitoring in the long run, even after the pandemic has passed.

Dexcom has historically traded at expensive multiples, but for those willing to take on some risk to gain exposure to both IoT and healthcare, it’s a stock to consider.

4. Impinj

Impinj specializes in solutions involving radio-frequency identification, or RFID. Impinj’s RFID tags are used by retailers, manufacturers, and logistics companies to track inventory and assets.

The market for RFID products, including tags, readers, software, and services, was worth $11.6 billion in 2019, according to IDTechEx, and it’s expected to grow to $13 billion this year. Apparel retail is so far one of the biggest markets by volume for RFID technology, with around 8 billion RFID labels used in 2018 to tag apparel items.

Apparel retailers were hit hard by the pandemic, with many stores forced to close their doors during stay-at-home orders. Multiple apparel retailers have gone bankrupt, including JCPenney, Tailored Brands, J.Crew, and Neiman Marcus.

This was obviously a problem for Impinj, and it hurt the company’s results. Impinj’s revenue tumbled in 2020, and sales were still down slightly in the first quarter of 2021. Growth picked up as the year progressed, and the company managed to expand revenue by 37% last year.

Impinj still has some growth opportunities created by the shift to e-commerce. Although many of the company’s end markets haven’t been looking great, bright spots include omnichannel retail, supply chain, and logistics.

Impinj estimates that just 0.1% of connectable items are connected today. In the long run, trillions of consumable objects, ranging from food packaging to tires, could be tracked using RFID technology. Each RFID endpoint costs only pennies, making the technology economical for a wide array of use cases.

Impinj is a small company, with just $190 million of revenue in 2021. It has shipped more than 30 billion RFID endpoints over its lifetime, and the number could rise substantially in the coming years. Impinj is far from a sure thing as an investment, but it’s a company to watch in the IoT space.

5. Intel

IoT isn’t Intel’s core market, but the semiconductor giant’s data center chips power the cloud data centers that link IoT devices together. Despite rising competition, Intel still dominates the data center CPU market.

Beyond powerful chips crunching data in the cloud, Intel sells chips meant for the edge. Its Xeon D family of processors, for example, has built-in AI for IoT applications and can operate in harsh, rugged conditions.

Intel also owns Mobileye, a leading developer of autonomous driving and advanced driver assistance systems. There are more than 1 billion cars on the road globally, and the fleet will become smarter and more connected.

In addition to selling its own chips that serve various parts of the IoT market, Intel is pouring tens of billions of dollars into building out its manufacturing capacity and starting up its own foundry business. Intel can further tap into growing demand for IoT devices by manufacturing the necessary chips for other companies.

Intel isn’t a pure-play IoT stock, but the company has multiple ways to benefit from a growing IoT industry.

Did you know?

Total spending on consumer and industrial IoT technology is expected to pass $1 trillion by 2022.

Is buying IoT stocks right for you?

If you'd rather not choose among individual stocks, you can still gain exposure to the IoT sector by investing in an IoT-focused exchange-traded fund (ETF). One such fund is the Global X Internet of Things ETF (NASDAQ:SNSR), which holds positions in dozens of IoT-related companies, including Dexcom. Buying shares in an IoT-focused fund confers instant sector diversification.

Whether you opt for an ETF or the stocks of specific companies, it's important to be aware of the risks of investing in IoT companies. The pandemic caused demand from some commercial customers to recede, and the ongoing global shortage of semiconductor chips, which is affecting companies in many industries, could persist for years.

But if you are a risk-tolerant and patient investor, then investing in IoT companies may be a smart choice for you. The research provider IDC estimates that total spending on consumer and industrial IoT technology and services will surpass $1 trillion by 2022, growing at a double-digit percentage rate. Everyday objects are increasingly connecting to the internet, and while a "smart toaster" will always be gimmicky, IoT technology is useful for many important applications. Home security, asset tracking, and management of chronic diseases are among the many use cases for IoT technology.

Related investing topics

Timothy Green has positions in Cisco Systems and Intel. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Alarm.com Holdings, Cisco Systems, and Intel. The Motley Fool recommends DexCom and Impinj and recommends the following options: long January 2023 $57.50 calls on Intel and short January 2023 $57.50 puts on Intel. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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