UPS, Google expand use of drones

February 4, 2020

UPS is the world’s largest package delivery company, but it also sees itself as a technology company, adapting traditional methods of moving goods with new ways of doing things.

As a technology company it is now competing with Google’s parent Alphabet in the development of unmanned drones.

UPS (NYSE:UPS) has been testing unmanned drones for several years. Its first efforts were delivering time and temperature sensitive drugs in remote parts of Ghana and Rwanda where patchy road and air links make delivery is slow and difficult. Last year, it used drones to deliver blood and tissue samples between hospitals in Raleigh, North Carolina. In the fall, it received wider approval from the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) for a ‘drone airline’ to use unmanned planes to more widely deliver goods.

The certification lets the company fly as many drones as it wants, carry cargo that weighs more than 55 pounds and fly at night.

Not to be outdone, UPS rival FedEx  joined Alphabet (NDQ:GOOGL) spinoff Wing Aviation in a partnership with the Walgreens pharmacy chain. In October 2019, it made the first scheduled commercial residential delivery in the U.S. to a home in Christiansburg, Virginia.

Wing was spun out of Alphabet’s experimental X division in 2018 and is part of Alphabet’s “Other Bets” portfolio. It received FAA approval last year for the delivery of small packages following more than 70,000 test flights and 3,000 deliveries in Australia.

Soon after the Wing test, UPS unveiled a partnership with  CVS Health Corp.  A drone made two short flights to homes near a CVS store in Cary, North Carolina. The prescriptions were lowered via a cable while the drone hovered about 20 feet about each address.

UPS said one of the packages was delivered to a customer with limited mobility, which makes it difficult for them to make the trip to a nearby store. A UPS drone operator who was on hand to take over the flights if needed. 

UPS and Alphabet are examples of companies that adapt to new technology to streamline their own operations, or those of their customers. By improving productivity, they are improving profitability.

Both are  components of the Harvest Brand Leaders Plus Income ETF (TSX: HBF, HBF.U).

As of Dec. 31, 2019, the actively managed portfolio held 20 global companies who are the dividend elite, with an average dividend yield of 1.87% and a current distribution yield of 6.6%. The distributions are paid monthly. The ETF’s management fee is 0.75%.

Alphabet is also a top holding of the Harvest Tech Achievers Growth & Income ETF. As of Dec. 31, 2019, the ETF (TSX:HTA, HTA.U) held a portfolio of 20 global technology leaders. The portfolio has an average dividend yield was 1.18% with a current distribution yield of 6.15%.

For more on Harvest ETFs click here.

The views and/or opinions expressed in the article are of a general nature and are for informational purposes only. Article contents should not be considered as advice and/or a recommendation to purchase or sell the mentioned securities or used to engage in personal investment strategies. Investors should consult their investment advisor before making any investment decision.

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