In about a month, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is expected to unveil a trio of iPhones that are expected to help boost Apple's iPhone business -- by far its largest and most important -- over the next year.
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When Apple wins, its suppliers tend to win, too. At a minimum, if Apple's iPhone sells better during this cycle than it did in the last, a supplier that maintained the same share within Apple's devices stands to benefit.
There are some suppliers, like Broadcom (NASDAQ: AVGO), that stand to benefit by more than just pure iPhone unit growth; Broadcom management indicated on its June earnings conference call that its dollar content within the next iPhone should grow by about 40% year over year.
That's some sweet growth.
That content growth, analysts with KeyBanc said in a recent note (via Barron's), will be driven by the addition of three new chips.
"We believe the three new incremental chips will be for wireless charging, RF, and force touch," the analysts said.
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Given that Broadcom has talked at length in the past about how increased cellular capabilities drive the need for increased RF (radio frequency) content, an additional RF chip seems reasonable. Broadcom has also been rumored for some time to be working with Apple on a wireless charging solution for the new iPhones, so that, too, checks out.
And, finally, while Analog Devices (NASDAQ: ADI) is believed to have been the supplier of the 3D Touch solution for the iPhone 6s series and iPhone 7 series, there have been rumors floating around that Broadcom would displace Analog Devices -- at least in part -- in the upcoming iPhone.
Seemingly based on this view, KeyBanc analyst John Vinh reportedly reiterated an overweight rating and a $280 price target on the stock (which would represent about 10% upside from current levels).
Though I share Vinh's optimism around Broadcom's business performance during the upcoming iPhone cycle, I'm not in a hurry to go out and buy Broadcom stock solely based on this. Here's why.
This optimism might already be baked in
Broadcom is a great company that executes well in just about every market that it participates in, thanks to strong engineering teams and shrewd management that aggressively weeds out losers in its technology portfolio and actively feeds the winners.
Broadcom is a technology company that's run like a really good investment fund.
However, Broadcom's business and engineering excellence is already known, as is the company's upcoming dollar content increase in the new phone (remember: the 40% number comes directly from Broadcom management), so there's not much opportunity for Broadcom to surprise the investment community -- at least regarding its wins at Apple.
Now, not everything regarding the Apple wins are currently known; Apple might see better demand than expected for its new iPhone models (though Apple's expectations already seem huge, based on its reported build activity), which could push Broadcom's financial results (and possibly stock price) up further.
At the same time, there's risk that Apple's new phones don't do as well in the market as Apple hopes, leading it to slash component orders, which would be a negative for Broadcom.
In short, the big picture from a financial perspective with respect to Broadcom and the coming iPhone cycle is already known; all that's left is for Broadcom's quarterly financial performance to fill in the details.
As far as Broadcom stock goes, I'm not making a call here either way -- I think it's a well-run company with a strong management team and exposure to a lot of interesting markets. On that basis, I might consider buying the stock, but I'm not rushing to buy the stock solely because of the already-known dollar content increases in the next iPhone.
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