- UBS analyst Paul Winter says artificial intelligence technologies are giving the world’s largest and most profitable companies a big advantage.
The machines are rising, and the world’s most successful companies are rising with them.
Paul Winter of UBS’ quantitative research team says that as new technologies like machine learning, natural language processing, and computer vision transform businesses, the biggest and richest companies are reaping more benefits than anyone else. That puts them in a class by themselves.
“AI facilitates the rise of ‘Superstar’ firms expanding product offerings and geographical reach,” Winter wrote in a note to clients. “From a style perspective, this seems to indicate that large, profitable, expensive firms, ‘Superstars’ are likely to continue to outperform.”
Citing Tania Babina, an assistant research professor at Columbia Business School, Winter writes that a virtuous cycle develops. Bigger and more profitable companies are able to invest more money in AI, which leads to better sales and more hiring, which leads to more growth.
The result is increasing industry concentration, which enables more investment in technology. And he says that pattern is playing out across the world, although it’s especially clear in some tech and consumer sectors and in the US, China, and Asia-Pacific region.
“The benefits from AI are likely to accrue primarily to larger firms for two reasons: Firstly, larger firms are more likely to have the resources to invest in AI, and secondly, larger firms are likely to accumulate extensive datasets, hence they are more likely to experience greater productivity efficiencies.”
All of that is helping a small number of expensive, high-growth companies that investment professionals almost have to own if they want to keep up at the market, Winter says.
That means profits are growing more concentrated at the top of each industry, giving the stocks of those companies a boost, he says. Those gains come at the expense of not only rival companies, but small-cap stocks, because bigger and more expensive stocks are delivering better sustained performance.
He adds that this AI spending has also been devastating value stocks, which have delivered disappointing returns for a long time.
Winter says the effects of this cycle are still getting stronger. That means his “superstars” might only get more super. He writes that the following 17 global companies are set to benefit from that trend.