The International Federation for Robotics latest report forecasts a 15% compounded annual growth rate for global shipments of industrial robots through 2020. That would follow 16% to 18% annual growth in 2016-2017. By 2020 annual unit shipments are estimated to reach 521,000, up from 294,000 in 2016 and 159,000 in 2012. The auto sector continued as the biggest purchaser of robots with 103 units in 2016, but the electronics sector is the biggest driver of growth , accounting for 26,000 in incremental growth in 2016 out of a global total of 40,000 units of incremental growth. China remains the world’s largest market, with 31% of 2016 units, followed by South Korea at 14% of units. The Federation expects China to see 20% to 25% compounded annual growth through 2020 against 15% growth in the United States. The global installed base of robots is forecast to reach 3 million units in 2020, up from 2 million in 2017 and 1 million a decade ago.
All this is good news for Japan’s leading industrial robot maker, Fanuc (FANUY in New York). I added that stock to my long-term 50 Stocks Portfolio on July 11, 2017. The shares are up 22.7% since that buy. They closed today at $24.09. Fanuc is one of the big beneficiaries of the weak yen policies of the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.