A few days ago investment company ARK Invest published a pretty hefty tome offering investors its regular assessment of the future technologies that deliver the greatest potential. Entitled “Big Ideas” and covering no less than 153 pages, the report shines a light on a raft of mega-trends, from the electric car through molecular cancer diagnostics all the way to AI and bitcoin. In all, the experts analyse 14 disruptive technologies whose value could appreciate by 40% a year until 2030. According to ARK, this will in turn have an enormous influence on the capital markets. The fund boutique anticipates that these markets will account for the greater part of global stock market capitalisation by the end of the decade.
Bitcoin bull market ahead
That ARK is not shy about optimistic expectations is evident from the forecast for Bitcoin. “Bitcoin’s long-term opportunity is strengthening,” says the latest Big Ideas issue. The management team reckons the price of the cryptocurrency will rise to USDmn 1.48 by 2030 in a bullish scenario. This corresponds to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 70%. Star investor and ARK founder Cathie Wood is somewhat more cautious in the case of a bear market, but still predicts a value of USD 258,500, which would be equivalent to a CAGR of 40%. One of the positives identified by Wood is that heavyweight institutions remained positive towards the asset class last year, when cryptos were suffering a significant correction. BlackRock, for instance, embarked on a partnership with Coinbase in June with the aim of giving institutional clients direct access to Bitcoin. Together they could pour trillions of dollars into the asset class over the next few years. In November 2022 Fidelity officially launched retail bitcoin and ether trading accounts enabling investors to trade and custody them on its platform.
On the trail of cancer
The ARK strategists led by Yassine Elmandjra divide the 14 disruptive technologies into five overarching investment themes which they predict will undergo a rise in market value of 41% p.a. on average to reach over USDtn 200 by 2030 (see graph). Alongside the public blockchains behind cryptocurrencies, these include artificial intelligence, robotics, energy storage and the multiomics sequencing of digitalised biological data. One of the aims of the last of these is to identify cancer reliably at an early stage. Multiomics testing, which includes other circulating tumour signals such as DNA fragmentation patterns, is the key to success here. The addressable market for molecular diagnostics is valued at some USDbn 95 in the USA alone. The molecular cancer diagnostics segment, according to estimates, is set to jump by more than a fifth each year to pass USDbn 24 by 2030. The ARK team believes manufacturers should be able to increase the value of their companies at a comparable rate.
AI changes the rules of play
One of the overarching themes is artificial intelligence (AI). This technology also reaches into other disruptive innovation platforms such as robotics. Intelligent machines, say the ARK experts, could permanently alter both infrastructure and the way in which products are made and sold. Take autonomous logistics, for example: the projections are for earnings in this sector to rise from almost zero today to USDtn 1 to 2 by 2030. One of the key elements is the autonomous delivery of food and parcels. The big techs, such as Alphabet with its “Google Wing” and Amazon with “Prime Air”, are already on the starting blocks with their self-developed drone and robot delivery solutions. Food and parcel drones could bring in revenue in excess of USDbn 700 by 2030. “The adoption of artificial intelligence should transform every sector, impact every business, and catalyze every innovation platform,” says ARK’s short and sweet summary of the potential of AI.
Development of disruptive innovation platforms by 2030
Source: ARK Invest
Bundled future opportunities: investing in 5 ARK ETFs with just one index
“The Big 5”
The now 67-year-old Cathie Wood founded investment company ARK Invest in 2014. The economist’s intention was, firstly, to focus solely on disruptive innovation, primarily in the public equity markets, and, secondly, to open up research and become a ‘sharing economy’ company in the asset management space. “We're all about finding the next big thing,” is one of Wood’s core statements. The global company has six ETFs under active management: ARK Innovation, ARK Autonomous Technology & Robotics, ARK Next Generation Internet, ARK Genomic Revolution, ARK Fintech Innovation and, since March 2021, the ARK Space Exploration & Innovation ETF as well. Other products offered include the 3D-Printing and Israel Innovative Technology index ETFs. In total, the firm currently manages some USDbn 11. The five biggest ETFs – ARK Innovation, ARK Autonomous Technology & Robotics, ARK Next Generation Internet, ARK Genomic Revolution and ARK Fintech Innovation – feature in the Disruptive Innovation Index launched at the end of 2020.
Corrections in the upward trend
Although the ARK specialists can look back on more than 40 years of experience in investment in technologies, they are not immune to setbacks. Soaring inflation coupled with hefty rises in interest rates have had a tangible impact on tech stocks – and thus ARK ETFs – over the past year. The flagship, the ARK Innovation ETF, for instance, lost around two thirds of its value in 2022. Genomic Revolution and Autonomous Technology & Robotics performed rather better, shedding “only” around half their value. Although Cathie Wood has recently made several adjustments in her portfolio, such as selling the stake in Nvidia and buying Tesla shares, she is still essentially following a clear strategy of investing in companies that own world-changing products. Satisfying the needs of investors focused on the short term, however, is not on her agenda. The funds are still ahead on a long-term view, with the biggest ETF, ARK Innovation, boasting a return of 10.00% p.a. since its launch. Even better were the performances of the two portfolios based on Genomic Revolution (12.20% p.a.) and Autonomous Technology & Robotics (14.40% p.a.).
“Buy the dip”
The Genomic Revolution ETF is dominated by molecular diagnostics, which accounts for just under a quarter. It is hardly surprising, then, that industry representative Exact Sciences leads the top 10 components in the portfolio. The company has specialised in the detection of cancer at an early stage, bringing the first stool DNA test for bowel cancer onto the market in 2014. Operationally, things are going well at Exact just now: at the beginning of January, the group issued a sales forecast above analysts’ estimates. The heavyweights of what has been the strongest ETF since its launch, Autonomous Technology & Robotics, are Trimble, Kratos Defense & Security Solutions and Tesla. Cathie Wood has been particularly fortunate with Tesla of late: at the turn of the year investors reached eagerly for the e-car pioneer, true to the motto “buy the dip”. They were right to do so – Tesla’s share price has almost doubled so far this year.
Five winners in one package
The ARK Invest ETFs have delivered an impressive turnaround in what is still a relatively young stock market year. The ARK quintet in the Disruptive Innovation Index have posted double-digit percentage growth overall. The front runner so far is the ARK Next Generation Internet ETF, which is up 29.60%. As a consequence, the tracker on the Disruptive Innovation Index that was brought into being by Leonteq in November 2020 also turned sharply upwards again. The CHF version of the participation instrument has appreciated by a fifth since New Year, while the USD-denominated instrument has advanced by as much as 22%. The index, in which the five actively managed ARK ETFs have equal weighting, also considers the dividends, which are reinvested in the respective ETFs. The tracker gives investors access to a broad range of technology mega-trends in a single trade. There is a fee of 0.75% p.a. An annual rebalancing ensures that the five underlyings always start the year with equal weightings.
Chart: ARK ETFs performance 2023
Source: ARK Invest
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