Beyond Bulls & Bears

Equity

Why There’s Never Been a Better Time to Invest in Innovation

Franklin DynaTech Fund is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. To mark the occasion, we caught up with Franklin Equity Group Vice President Matt Moberg, portfolio manager of the fund. He explains why he thinks we are in the middle of a period of unprecedented innovation where five technology-driven themes are starting to disrupt various industries.

Since inception, Franklin DynaTech Fund’s broad mandate has been the same: investing in companies whose innovative products and services have stimulated change or progress.

Although “tech” is in the Franklin DynaTech Fund’s name, we’ve always recognized that the influence of technology stretches across more than just a single sector. In the early days, the fund invested in computer manufacturers as well as in growth industries like convalescent homes, oceanography and pollution control.

Now, more than ever, we see innovation as the main driving force behind value creation in the global economy. As growth-oriented investors, we believe one must invest in innovation across industries to have the potential to outperform the market.

A Period of Unprecedented Innovation

In our view, we are in the middle of a period of unprecedented innovation where many ideas are evolving at the same time and are being adopted faster than initially anticipated. It reminds us of a period in the late 1800s. Back then, the harnessing of electricity and the invention of the telephone and internal combustible engine spurred growth across industries.

These days, we are particularly excited about the prospects for five technologically enabled themes that are starting to disrupt five different industries:

  • robotics (industrials)
  • genome sequencing (health care)
  • energy storage (energy)
  • next-generation internet1 (technology) and
  • blockchain and virtual currencies/payments (finance).

Investing for the Future

Some of the themes listed above, like robotics, are currently investable. Robotics are changing the role of the human workforce to improve productivity and minimize production costs on the factory floor.

That said, we don’t think some of the other themes, including genome sequencing and blockchain, are worth investing in—at least not yet.

Genome sequencing could change the world. This process involves decoding a patient’s DNA to identify specific genes that, in turn, might serve to influence which drugs would be most effective to treat illnesses such as cancer. However, based on our analysis, none of the publicly traded gene-editing companies have yet to show a sustainable stream of revenue or are close to an approved drug.

We are also waiting to see how blockchain (a decentralized, digital ledger) evolves. We don’t currently see any attractive opportunities to invest in blockchain or the virtual currencies, such as bitcoin, that use the technology. However, we believe that’s likely to change in the coming years. In our view, blockchain could be used by title insurance companies or securities exchanges to reduce the time needed to transfer mortgage titles or settle trades, respectively.

The Case for Active Management

In summary, we believe it is a ripe time to invest in innovation. We are encouraged by the new technology-driven themes we see across many industries.

However, we see these themes evolving at different paces and becoming investable at different times. That’s why we think active management can really prove its worth—guiding investors into these themes when they intersect well with a good investment. In particular, we look for select investments in companies in industries where the penetration rates are low, and the market structure and prospects for monetization are good.

The comments, opinions and analyses expressed herein are for informational purposes only and should not be considered individual investment advice or recommendations to invest in any security or to adopt any investment strategy. Because market and economic conditions are subject to rapid change, comments, opinions and analyses are rendered as of the date of the posting and may change without notice. The material is not intended as a complete analysis of every material fact regarding any industry, security or investment.

This information is intended for US residents only.

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What Are the Risks?

Franklin DynaTech Fund

All investments involve risks, including possible loss of principal. The Franklin DynaTech Fund’s investments in fast-growing industries, including the technology and health care sectors (which have historically been volatile) could result in increased price fluctuation, especially over the short term, due to the rapid pace of product change and development and changes in government regulation of companies emphasizing scientific or technological advancement or regulatory approval for new drugs and medical instruments. The fund may also invest in small- and mid- capitalization companies, which can be particularly sensitive to changing economic conditions, and their prospects for growth are less certain than those of larger, more established companies.

These and other risks are described more fully in the fund’s prospectus.

Investors should carefully consider a fund’s investment goals, risks, sales charges and expenses before investing. Download a prospectus, which contains this and other information. Please carefully read a prospectus before you invest or send money.

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1. Next-generation internet technologies include artificial intelligence, 5G, and virtual and augmented reality.