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STOCKS TO WATCH: Lions to use new Vodafone tech platform

STOCKS TO WATCH: British & Irish Lions to use new Vodafone technology platform to study players

Pandemic travel bans and a drop in smartphone sales have been hurting Vodafone’s shares, but an intriguing new tie-up offers a glimpse of potential future revenues.

The telecoms giant will tomorrow be launching Player.Connect, a technology platform for sports coaches and medical staff.

The software will be used by coaches on the British & Irish Lions rugby tour of South Africa next month. It will collate data on everything from players’ injuries and heart rates to sleep patterns and diets. It even displays the impact of tackles using connected mouthguards.

Innovation: Player.Connect will be used by coaches on the British & Irish Lions rugby tour of South Africa

The link-up comes after the 2019 acquisition of IoT.nxt, a specialist in the Internet of Things – the network of connected devices. Vodafone estimates that market could be worth £3 billion by 2024.

Business director Anne Sheehan says: ‘We are also using this technology in other industries, from studying remote sensors in the water industry to monitoring carbon generation in forests.’

Vodafone hopes the Lions partnership can provide a high-profile demonstration of the technology in other elite sports and industries.

The coronavirus pandemic has sharpened the need for analysing the performance of players and companies remotely.

Sheehan added: ‘This IoT platform is a game-changer for Vodafone. Gathering and monitoring data, whether it’s on rugby players or water networks, requires a large number of sources, and this brings them all together.

‘The Lions tour provides a perfect showcase for what this technology can do – from analysing player performance, to their recovery, sleep and diet. Coaches are able to access and study vast quantities of data in one place, and this makes that job far easier, as well as protecting and getting the most out of the players. 

Rolls-Royce’s long-term prospects looking up 

Rolls-Royce chief executive Warren East has been trying to underscore the company’s long-term prospects as the crisis in aviation dents the engine maker.

It hopes to hit net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and ramp up investment in green fuel and technology. 

Rolls-Royce spent £1.4 billion on research and development in 2019. While that figure took a Covid crunch down to £1.25 billion last year, East tells me there will be ‘upward movement’ back to previous levels as aviation recovers.

The plan is to ramp up spending on green initiatives from 50 per cent of the R&D budget now to 75 per cent by 2025.

Investors interested in the drab world of packaging

The lockdown boom in online shopping has piqued investor interest in the drab world of packaging.

Cardboard box maker DS Smith, which counts Amazon as a customer, will this week post its annual results.

At £4.21, the stock is at its highest for nearly three years as lockdowns continue to buoy sentiment around the firm. Profit is expected to be £237 million for the year to April 30, 2021, against £368 million the year before.

Analysts hope it will top £350 million in the current financial year.

They will also be keen to hear whether inflation is pushing up the cost of materials, as well as the outlook for the dividend. 

Busier roads have knock-on effect for insurers 

Many highways and byways are as busy as they were pre-pandemic, causing a knock-on effect for car insurers. Scribblers at Credit Suisse reckon Admiral could be dinged by the trend, with pressure from rising claims.

Lockdowns cut the number of claims last year – Admiral even paid £110 million in ‘Stay at Home Refunds’.

The Credit Suisse analysts say Admiral’s shares, which ended last week at £32.09, are now only worth £23.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk