Amazon’s food ambitions spur Seattle’s Impinj to best IPO return

Impinj is widely speculated to be part of the Amazon Go cashierless store experiment. That has provided a boost to its stock, which has more than tripled since its initial offering last July, making it the best performer in the Bloomberg IPO Index over the past 12 months.

Amazon.com’s proposed deal to buy Whole Foods Markets has been a catastrophe for countless stocks, as concern about market disruption wreaked havoc on retailers, but it’s adding fuel to an already stellar run for Seattle-based Impinj.

Impinj, whose radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology allows users to tag and track data on products, is widely speculated to be part of the Amazon Go cashierless-store experiment. That has provided a boost to its stock, which has more than tripled since its initial offering last July, making it the best performer in the Bloomberg IPO Index over the past 12 months.

“Connecting everyday items just has to be the next step for the Internet,” Impinj CEO Chris Diorio said. “At some point in the future you will be able to get information about an item you own or want to buy and you can get it directly.”

While other companies like Zebra Technologies make tracking software and NXP Semiconductors makes the so-called endpoint chips that go on products, Impinj offers a complete system.

Apparel retailers are now the biggest users of Impinj’s products. Diorio estimates there are about 80 billion connectable items a year sold in that industry, with penetration by Impinj and others around 5 to 10 percent.

The holy grail of Diorio’s vision is food. “Once we get to connecting food items, the number is truly astronomical,” he said. That may help to explain why Impinj’s stock soared 19 percent June 16, the day Amazon announced its agreement to buy Whole Foods for $13.7 billion.

Analysts say Amazon already uses Impinj’s technology in its brick-and-mortar bookstores. Diorio and an Amazon representative declined to comment on the companies’ relationship.

“All signs point to Amazon Go utilizing RFID in some capacity,” said Brad Erickson, a KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst who covers Impinj. “Under that type of scenario, I would think that Impinj would be involved.”

Amazon is part of the RAIN Alliance, a group co-founded by Impinj which promotes the universal adoption…

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