Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) shoveled more coal into its money-making locomotive today (Wednesday) with the official launch of the New iPad.
If the third version of Apple's trend-setting tablet is as big a success as most expect, then owning the company's stock isn't the only way that Apple investors can profit. Many of Apple's suppliers will also reap reward from the New iPad.
The New iPad's marquee features, such as support for 4G LTE networks and the ultra-high resolution Retina display, should help Apple maintain its dominance in the tablet market at least through the end of the year. And if rumors of a 7-inch iPad Mini eventually pan out, Apple will have a cheaper tablet option to appeal to consumers now buying Amazon.com's (Nasdaq: AMZN) $199 Kindle Fire.
A Forrester Research report published yesterday (Tuesday) put the iPad's share of the tablet market at 73%, with no other rival having more than 5%.
Analyst estimates for 2012 iPad sales range from 55 million to 60 million. Apple has sold 55 million iPads since the product's debut in April 2010, winning over not just consumers but multiple markets.
"It's astonishing how fast the product has spread through business, education and health care," Needham & Co. analyst Charles Wolf told USA Today.
Sales of the iPad, along with the iPhone, have pleased Apple investors by pushing stock past $500 a share this year.
With a well-developed ecosystem designed to keep customers in the Apple fold, the Cupertino-CA-based company figures to grab the lion's share of what analysts expect to be rapid growth in the global tablet market over the next several years. Research firm IHS iSuppli estimates the tablet market will grow from 65 million units last year to 287 million units in 2015.
For Apple investors, the most obvious way to try to ride the New iPad to profit is to buy Apple stock. But with the price well over $500 a share and likely to keep climbing, a great alternative is to buy the stock of one or more of Apple's suppliers.
Here are five strong candidates that already sell Apple parts for the iPad 2, and are likely to remain suppliers for the New iPad:
Apple Investors Can Profit from Suppliers
STMicroelectronics N.V. (NYSE: STM): One of the best pure plays for cashing in on Apple's mobile computing juggernaut is STMicroelectronics – the company supplies all of the tiny gyroscope and accelerometer chips in the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Those chips perform the magic that adjusts the screen orientation when you rotate a mobile device, or help the device react to shaking and tilting motions. STMicro trades at about $7 a share and has a one-year consensus target price of $8.41. It pays a dividend of 15 cents for a yield of 5.71%.
QUALCOMM Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM): Qualcomm supplies chips compatible with Verizon's cellular network for both the iPhone and iPad. The company also provides the GPS chip in both Apple products. But Qualcomm's relationship with Apple could really pay off if it turns out its Gobi 4000 chips are behind the New iPad's LTE support. Gobi integrates the older 3G network technology with the new 4G (also known as LTE) network technology and does so in a way that preserves battery life. Apple said by using LTE the New iPad battery lasts even longer than the iPad 2 did with 3G. Qualcomm trades at about $62 a share with a one-year price target of $69.62. It offers a 22-cent dividend for a yield of 1.39%.
Analog Devices Inc. (NYSE: ADI): ADI provides a touchscreen controller for the iPad 2, as well as the tiny microphone. That contract was a big deal for Massachusetts-based ADI, and helped make it the No. 3 global supplier of chip-based microphones in 2011. ADI trades at about $38 a share and has a one-year price target of $41.70. During its most recent earnings call, ADI management forecast grossmarginof 64% to 64.5%. The company pays a dividend of 30 cents a share for a yield of 3.14%. ADI recently raised its dividend this past quarter by 20%.
Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM): Broadcom supplies several chips to the iPad 2, two involving the touchscreen, one that controls the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi transmission and one for the GPS system in the AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) version of the iPad. Like many Apple suppliers, Broadcom also provides parts for the iPhone, so it should prosper as long as Apple can keep growing sales. Broadcom trades at about $35 a share and has a one-year price target of $42.35. IT pays a dividend of 10 cents a share for a yield of 1.14%.
Zagg Inc. (Nasdaq: ZAGG): Not exactly a supplier, Zagg in the No. 1 mobile device accessory provider in the United States. It sells the protective coverings and other add-ons almost everyone buys for their new iPad or iPhone. Not surprisingly, Zagg has made the most of the Apple-triggered explosion in the mobile device market. It reported earnings growth of 146% year-over-year in the December quarter, and expects to keep growing at a torrid pace along with the tablet and phone markets. Zagg trades at about $10 a share and has an impressive one-year target price of $20.50. It does not pay a dividend.
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