There is no question that the introduction of the iPhone 4S has strengthened Apple’s (AAPL) already dominant grip on the smartphone market, but the overwhelming consumer response to the device may serve to benefit more than just the tech mogul. The companies that design and manufacture the components, particularly the semiconductor chips, which make up the popular device also stand to benefit considerably from the launch of the newest iPhone. So, who scored a spot in Apple’s supply chain? The close linkage between these players and iPhone sales could signal potential opportunities for investors.
Qualcomm (QCOM), most notably, is in line to realize considerable gains from its role in the newest iPhone. The company provides around $15 in chip offerings per device, one of which is its MDM6610 baseband processor. The Qualcomm MDM6610 has taken an exclusive position in the iPhone since Apple bumped Intel-owned (INTC - Free Intel Stock Report) Infineon’s offering from the device. This augurs well not only for Qualcomm’s near-term prospects in terms of current iPhone sales, but is a positive indication of what the company’s relationship with Apple will be like going forward.
TriQuint Semiconductor (TQNT), which has had a long-standing relationship with Apple, ought to continue to profit from its inclusion in the iPhone line. According to iFixit, the iPhone 4S boasts two of the company’s chips. In fact, shortly after the release of the device, news of TriQuint’s role in the smartphone led the stock up sharply in price. And, although shares of TriQuint have cooled off since then, the company will likely benefit considerably from its iPhone connection as more devices are sold.
Hynix, Skyworks Solutions (SWKS), and Avago Technologies (AVGO) have all landed spots in the smartphone, as well. Hynix’s contribution is in the form of costly memory chips, a position that was virtually exclusive to Samsung and Toshiba in previous versions. Skyworks scored a win with its 77464-20 power amplifier. And Avago, in particular, should benefit from Apple’s use of its ACPM-7181 converged power amplifier module. The company has historically trailed competitors in the market for power amplifiers, but given the high sales volumes associated with the iPhone, Avago could gain considerable traction going forward. In addition, Apple’s A5 dual-core processor, which powers the iPhone 4S, is manufactured by Samsung. The device’s 8 megapixel camera is made by Sony (SNE).
Delving inside the iPhone 4S reveals a number of opportunities for investors beyond Apple shares. The makeup of the device is quite complex and pays homage to several lesser-known names. Essentially, these companies will likely benefit not only from the inclusion of their components in the iPhone 4S, but also from their overall relationship with Apple. Securing a spot in Apple’s supply chain effectively establishes these players as noteworthy competitors in the industry.
All told, the popularity of the iPhone line is unlikely to wane, and sales of the 4S version ought to continue to expand at a rapid pace as long as it remains the most recently launched device. For those who may view Apple shares as too pricey, it may be beneficial to consider gaining exposure to the iPhone 4S via the stocks that make up its supply chain. In any case, companies with a hand in the newest iPhone may be worth a closer look, especially for those looking for a play in the technology sector.
At the time of this article’s writing, the author did not have any positions in any of the companies mentioned.