What’s happening to the big industrial robot stocks?
... Compared to the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which is back to where it started the year, the big four robot manufacturers are down 20% year to date. Yet 2011 robot sales were great (see story below). And prospects for 2012 sales were expected to be just as good. Particularly in Asia. So why are these stocks 20% down?
... Rising wages and demands for faster, safer production are driving Chinese manufacturers to buy more robots. China bought 15,000 robots last year and expects that figure to expand 30-40% annually.
... KUKA, the largest European industrial robot maker, is building a regional hub in China.
... FANUC tripled production capacity to handle new sales into China. It’s stock is the only one of the four that is positive for the year.
... YASKAWA ELECTRIC is building plants in Japan and China to meet the rising demand.
... ABB, the second-largest European robot maker, said that it sells one out of three robots to customers in Asia, and just shipped it’s 200,000th robot to a solar manufacturer in China.
... Nevertheless, stocks of the Big 4 are significantly trailing the Dow Jones Industrial Average.