2022 Forecast: How to Cash in on Quantum Computing, the Metaverse, and the Next 50+ Years of Innovation

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I started Strategic Tech Investor more than 10 years ago because I believe everyone, at every income level, needs to be invested in technology stocks – large and small.

Our win record over the years proves we’ve more than kept up the pace – enjoying triple- and quadruple-digit peak gains on Adobe Inc. (ADBE), Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), Bitcoin, and many, many others.

That performance is no surprise. Tech is how the American economy grows now. Companies like Microsoft, Apple Inc. (AAPL), Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) – all of them get some credit for building our modern society. And because their stock prices have gone parabolic along the way, they get the credit for generating trillions of dollars in wealth for the folks with the vision to back them.

Of course, companies like Microsoft and Amazon are now mature – they make for must-own, foundational investments in every portfolio – but there’s no slacking up in the pace of innovation there.

These companies – and other, smaller, less well-known firms – are making moves right now that will define technology for the next 50 years – and far beyond.

I’m talking about quantum computing, an $8 trillion revolution that will “reboot” computing as we know it; I’m talking about the Metaverse, an immersive virtual world that will generate a projected 828 billion very real dollars by 2028; and I’m talking about biotech advances that will make the one-year development time for COVID-19 vaccines look downright slow by comparison.

My Strategic Tech Investor research has uncovered opportunities in these three megatrends, and in just a moment, I’m going to name the tickers of the stocks you need to own to fully capitalize on them.

The Future of Computing Is Quantum

The concept of quantum computing isn’t all that new, dating back to the 1980s. But the technology needed to make the vision a reality has only materialized over the past few years. Now that that the technology is here, the genie is out of the bottle.

Let me be clear: This is a profoundly radical paradigm shift. But in order to understand where we’re going, we need to look at where we are now and how we got to the precipice of this far-reaching revolution.

Limitations in Classical Computing

The foundations of classical – or binary – computing reach back as far as the 17th century, when German mathematician Gottfried Leibniz devised a binary system of 1s and 0s in an attempt to transform verbal logical arguments into pure mathematical statements. Modern digital, electronic computers date to the mid-1940s, and they use bits, which are essentially 1s and 0s – yes or no, on or off, true or false – as their most basic unit of information.

ENIAC general purpose electronic digital computer c. 1946

With the advent of semiconductors, of course, computers have become incredibly powerful – and in many cases, smaller. Japan’s $1.2 billion Fugaku supercomputer – the most powerful on Earth – can perform 500 quadrillion floating point operations per second (FLOPS), and American labs have already set their sights on doubling that performance.

The problem, then, is that while we haven’t exactly reached the limits of classical computing, those limits are becoming clear and tangible.

In other words, if we’re going to continue to progress and innovate, humanity is going to need a lot more computing “firepower.” Emerging technologies like the Metaverse, big data, artificial intelligence, and even medical robots will require nothing less than a revolution in the way we crunch numbers.

It’s tempting to think of computing as something that happens “out there” in thin air, but as Hans Robinson – physics professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute – told Scientific American, “Any actual computation must be done by a physical system, exploiting the laws of physics to manipulate information that is represented by the state of some device, such as the directions of magnetization at some particular spots on a hard drive or the conductivity of a specific set of transistors inside a computer’s memory chip.”

The IBM Q System One quantum computer c. 2021

Enter Quantum Computing and the Qubit

Quantum computing is an entirely new type of computing. Whereas classical computing relies on 1s and 0s – bits – to process information, with the qubit… the “answer” can be both at the same time. It can be 1 and 0, yes and no, true and false, on and off. Quantum computing uses the spin of a single electron to achieve this. In quantum mechanics, simply observing the spinning electron would change its direction, but in a qubit, the electron is “superimposed” so it never attains a single state. That’s how it can be measured, and it’s one of the reasons quantum computing is even possible.

So… it’s complicated. But for you and I, the real-world implications of an exponential increase in computing power are huge. To give you just one example, as of November 2021 the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) reported that China’s Jiuzhang 2.0 quantum computer could solve a problem 10^24 times faster than a classical computer.

(And yes, there very much is a “quantum race” underway between the United States, China, and other world powers. This is urgent – because it’s thought that a full-scale quantum computer could effortlessly break a country’s toughest encryption methods.)

The Googleplex, Mountain View, California

With quantum computing, all sorts of “once-unsolvable” problems can be tackled – such as how to increase battery performance in electric vehicles and improve the efficiency of solar panels to the point where they mimic photosynthesis in plants. Quantum computing can even help solve complex, chaotic issues like water scarcity or how to deal with extreme weather. It’s not a stretch to say quantum computers will help us solve problems we don’t even realize we have yet.

In the here and now, it’s already being put to use by companies across the market – companies with the savvy to recognize, even in its earliest, most rudimentary form, its incredible number-crunching, problem-solving potential. UPS is using it to optimize its delivery routes to the greatest extent possible. Volkswagen (VWAGY) is, naturally, using quantum computing to boost its paint shop efficiency, and Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) is using the tech to quickly spot-check millions of lines of code.

So quantum computing has already had its “Wright Brothers moment,” and now, we’re heading toward its “jet engine” moment. And one company is going flat-out…

The Number-One Stock to Profit from Quantum Computing

The smart investing play here is none other than Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) – Google. This Silicon Valley legacy firm is all but ensuring it will remain a tech leader – and a must-own stock – throughout the 21st century.

Google just opened its very own quantum computer data center and research and design (R&D) facility and – even better – has opened up its cloud infrastructure to allow others to use its commercial-grade quantum computing firepower… for a fee, that is. Google’s Quantum AI program offers approved researchers remote access to its world-beating quantum computing gear. Google’s quantum efforts reached a turning point in 2019 when – for the first time ever – its machines were able to outperform classical, binary computers in some specific tasks.

The company is working on building a quantum system in which one million physical qubits can work together inside a room-sized quantum computer – much like the World War II-era room-sized digital computing. Today’s real-world systems use around 100 qubits. Google is also working on, for lack of a better term, “quantum transistors” that can perform calculations together in a way similar to today’s semiconductors. That same IEEE report I cited earlier mentioned that, in principle, a quantum computer with “just” 300 qubits could perform more FLOPS than there are atoms in the observable universe.

When this breakthrough is achieved, and it seems likely it will be, it will help put Google light-years ahead of its competition. I believe every investor should be along for the ride.

Action to Take: Buy Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) shares at market, and add to the position on any dips. If necessary, own fractional GOOGL shares, your brokerage permitting.

Banking Very Real Profits from a Virtual World

While the Metaverse is another idea that’s been with us a long time, rapid strides in computing and telecommunications have only now made it a practical fact. But we’ve only barely scratched the surface of its potential.

Author Neal Stephenson first coined the term “Metaverse” in his 1992 science-fiction novel Snow Crash, which envisions a virtual reality-based successor to the internet. In Stephenson’s hit novel, people use digital “avatars,” or idealized representations of themselves, to explore this online world – often as a means of escaping a dystopian reality.

Escapism is already in full swing in the Metaverse, but it’s so much more than that. It will be used in ways Neal Stephenson and other visionaries could never have imagined back in the 1990s – or even the 2010s for that matter.

The rapid convergence of ultrabroadband 5G telecommunications, ultrafast (and before long, quantum) computers, digital payments, cryptocurrencies, and augmented and virtual reality systems are changing the ways we interact with the world right before our eyes.

Here are just a few ways the Metaverse can be used in real-world applications.

Real-World Applications of a Virtual World

Imagine for a moment the world’s top neurosurgeon. Now, let’s say she’s based in Mumbai, India. A patient in Santiago, Chile – halfway across the world – badly needs her skills for a dire medical problem. That surgeon in India can meet with the patient in a virtual office – avatar to avatar – to walk them through the particulars of a procedure. Then, when the time comes our ace surgeon can perform a very real operation on the patient remotely – she in India, he in Chile – via robotic systems in a virtual operating room staffed with as many nurses and specialists as she needs. They’re also remote.

Let’s say General Electric Co. (GE) or Rolls Royce Holding PLC (RLLCF) is ready to design a new, hyperefficient jet engine. The engine can be designed, built, and tested in the virtual world on any airframe in their library. The engine can be perfected and tested before it’s ever bolted on to a real aircraft.

A company like Nike Inc. (NKE) can use the virtual world as an entirely new sales channel, reaching millions instantly in an engaging, meaningful way.

The opportunities offered in the Metaverse are endless – and that has a lot to do with Goldman Sachs’s recent projections: Analysts there see the Metaverse as an $8 trillion opportunity.

Hundreds of companies will head in in a kind of Digital Gold Rush. In fact, the business world is already running in headlong, scooping up incredibly valuable virtual “real estate,” developing marketable, virtual product lines, and jockeying for a commanding position in the Metaverse.

However, some firms will be much better positioned than others to reap the rewards.

The Number-One Stock to Profit from the Metaverse

Unity Software Inc. (U) is one of the top companies helping to create and flesh out the Metaverse.

Unity isn’t exactly a household name like Google, but if you’re a game designer, it’s at the top of your list – best known for its full suite of software tools that power video games, VR experiences, and digital moviemaking on more than 20 major device platforms.

To give you an idea of Unity’s unparalleled footprint, about one-half of all mobile, console, and home PC games now run on Unity – as do nearly three-quarters of the top 1,000 mobile games. Unity boasts 2.5 billion active monthly users and powers between 60% and 90% of all VR experiences.

Unity is much more than a “video game platform” though.

You’ll remember I mentioned a headlong rush by businesses into the Metaverse as they make a mad scramble to establish a corporate presence there.

Well, a business doesn’t have to be a retailer, IT, or new economy operation to benefit from what Unity’s offering. Unity can meet the needs of industrial businesses looking to hang out their shingle in the Metaverse; it’s prime territory for robotics. The Unity Industrial Collection, for instance, includes the Unity AI and machine learning tools that can be used to simulate robots and create virtual data to plug into and train machine vision systems. And it’s extremely handy for creating the “digital twins” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella envisions – exact, virtual copies of real-world locations.

Its industrial collection of tools is fully integrated with the industry-leading Autodesk suite of 3D modeling and design tools. Even now, Unity’s digital industrial toolkits are used by companies all over the world – the real world that is. Sweden’s Volvo Car AB (VLVOF), Germany’s Audi AG (AUDVF), French aerospace manufacturer Dassault Aviation S.A. (DUAVF), and Japan’s automotive juggernauts Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (HMC) and Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) are just a few of its industrial users.

Virtual prototyping in the Metaverse

Swedish-American automotive safety supplier Autoliv Inc. (ALV) is a customer too. Autoliv is, in fact, the world’s largest safety gear supplier – it sells a lot of seatbelts and airbags as you can imagine. Autoliv has adopted Unity for 3D modeling and testing, meaning it’s no longer necessary to actually smash a real car to test and demonstrate equipment effectiveness.

Unity’s designing and modeling processes can also cut down on the time it takes to transform a design to an actionable blueprint from four days to six hours.

Civil and private engineering firms and architects stand to benefit enormously in the Metaverse. For as long as these fields have existed, folks have had to communicate their vision – often enough, on high-stakes contracts – with reduced scale models of some kind. It can be difficult to fully comprehend the size and impact of, say, a skyscraper in that way.

In the Metaverse, however, it’s a cinch to build full-scale 1:1 models – and place them in their proper context. Planners and policymakers can see exactly how a new supertall building will look in London or exactly how a new freeway project will work out in San Diego – traffic and all. This can result in significant savings to private enterprise and public coffers, too, courtesy of Unity’s suite of Metaverse tools.

Intense media focus on the Metaverse, prompted by Facebook’s changeover to Meta and Mark Zuckerberg’s press release on the Metaverse’s potential, ignited a kind of speculative frenzy in Unity and other related stocks in the last quarter of 2021. Unity stock rocketed to $210 in the process.

By November 19, however, the craze had cooled off, and Unity shares sank to much more reasonable levels, blowing off the head of froth and knocking out the late money.

Investors are getting an unbelievably good deal on Unity stock right now. The company is still firmly in its growth phase – and over the past 12 months, its revenues have grown 43%. It handily beat its most recent earnings estimates.

In a very real way, Unity makes for the top “pick-and-shovel” play in the Metaverse.

Action to Take: Buy Unity Software Inc. (U) shares at market, and plan to hold for the long term.

Faster Drug Development and Quicker, Bigger Biotech Profits

It’s no exaggeration at all to call the development of COVID-19 vaccines and therapies a “medical moonshot.”

The first cases of SARS CoV-2 were seen in China in November 2019, and by January 2020, the virus had spread worldwide. Chinese scientists mapped the novel coronavirus’s genome in mid-January of that year, just two months before countries all over the world began locking down.

Every schoolkid knows that story by now, but there’s a lot more to it.

What’s not commonly known is that by early April 2020 – when much of the United States was still shut down – researchers at biotech firms and universities the world over had already isolated something like 115 vaccine candidates. Pfizer Inc. (PFE) alone had at least four contenders on its hands.

And two weeks before Christmas 2020, the first Americans (outside of clinical trials) were receiving their first shots.

Just over a year after the new, deadly disease emerged, we had highly effective vaccines – a scientific feat the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Apollo program in the 1960s and 1970s. Before the COVID vaccine, the previous vaccine “speed record holder” was Mumpsvax – and that vaccine took more than four years to get from drawing board to market back in the mid-1960s.

In vaccine development – and really, biotech at large – everything revolves around solving problems. Simple and complex compounds all stand a good chance of saving lives. But creating those drugs has been, historically, an intricately complicated, grueling process of trial and error, success and failure, testing and approval. It wasn’t all that uncommon for a drug to take a decade or more to get to market.

A sobering fact: Almost 90% of drugs fail at some point on their way through clinical trials – a failure point that can come after tens of millions of dollars and countless man hours have been invested.

But drug discovery, one of the hardest parts of the process, has improved drastically over the past two years. We have faster computers and artificial intelligence to thank. This tech uses computing to match molecules and test them digitally to see how they interact – and potentially, help prevent or cure diseases. This is part of the reason why COVID vaccines were such a rapid, breakthrough success.

Happily enough, this is a trend we can get comfortable with; the pace of drug development and the “tech uptake” in the biotech sector is only going to accelerate from here.

It’s thought that rapid drug development along these lines could create $4 trillion in new wealth worldwide every single year. The benefits in lives saved and economic activity sustained are literally incalculable.

And the pace of development is only going to increase from here on out.

The Number-One Stock to Profit from Advances in Biotech

Right now, the best play on the “tech-enhanced” biotech sector remains Moderna Inc. (MRNA).

You may read that and think to yourself, “Old news,” and it’s certainly true that Moderna has been in the headlines since it announced a viable vaccine candidate was going to trials in mid-2020.

It didn’t look promising at the time, at least according to conventional Wall Street analysts who pointed out Moderna had never had a single Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in its history. However, I recommended keeping an eye on this stock when news of its vaccine efforts first broke – and I’ve been following closely ever since. Shares have risen as high as $449.

The rest is history, of course, now that full approval has been secured and Spikevax has been administered to hundreds of millions of people.

Vials of Moderna’s Spikevax

Moderna’s COVID vaccine is in the history books, and the mainstream investing crowd has “moved on,” but this company still has a winning mRNA vaccine technology platform, which it’s currently bringing to bear on the more vaccine-resistant Omicron variant of SARS CoV-2. Work is also underway on a universal SARS CoV-2 vaccine that could blunt the future variants we’re likely to see.

At the moment, the company is working on a combination influenza and SARS CoV-2 vaccine – as well as a vaccine aimed at respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) – a disease which is a bad cold to most of us but can turn life threatening in a hurry for infants, some toddlers, and the elderly.

Moderna is also working on drugs to treat rare diseases like Crigler-Najjar syndrome, which can have devastating effects on the brain, muscles, and nerves. CEO St├ęphane Bancel is adamant, even passionate, about the biotech firepower mRNA technology can bring to rare diseases that can go unaddressed for years by the industry.

Perhaps most intriguing of all, Moderna is currently running Phase II trials into what is – for all intents and purposes – a “personalized cancer vaccine,” mRNA-4157. This new drug targets melanoma.

Moderna is a fantastic way to play the current bleeding edge of biotech and should remain a must-own for years to come.

Action to Take: Buy shares of Moderna Inc. (MRNA) at market – and watch your inbox for my next recommendation.

Cheers and good investing,

Michael A. Robinson