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Don’t Count These Apple Suppliers Out Based on Slowed iPhone Sales

The disappointing earnings Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) posted lastweek caused its stock to tank. We saw investors not only flee their positions in the iPhone maker, but we also saw them fleeing companies that supply the parts that Apple uses to build its smartphones, iPads and other devices.

The knee jerk reaction to this decline for many investors has been to get out of Apple and its suppliers in the short-term, or even the long-term. However, it may be worthwhile to hang in there for the long term when it comes to the suppliers.

Among Apple’s elves (suppliers) are Cirrus Logic (NASDAQ: CRUS) and Jabil Circuit (NASDAQ: JBL).I found that although these suppliers face repercussions from Apple’s sales’ downturn, they have individual strengths that have nothing to do with Apple. Those strengths include diverse product offerings that contribute significantly to their revenue growth. Their strengths contribute to their positive cash flows and attractive valuations.

 

 · The softening Apple

 

Apple reported shipping about 51 million iPhones during its second quarter of fiscal 2016, which represented a 16% decline compared to the same quarter in fiscal 2015. The numbers represented the first ever year-over-year decline in iPhone sales.

The softening partly reflects the slowing of smartphone sales throughout the world. Observers note that that the second quarter was the first time global shipments of the iPhone declined on an annualized basis since it was introduced. China’s smartphone market is maturing, which is a major market for smartphone makers.

 

 · Strong, but still Apple dependent

 

Cirrus Logic, which is a fabless semiconductor company that develops analog and mixed-signal integrated circuits, derives about a third of its revenue from Apple. It provides the audio chip to iPhones. Since warning flags began being raised at the end of 2015 about Apple’s shrinking iPhone sales, Cirrus Logic has been singled out as likely experience the worst ramifications of Apple’s declines.

Last week the company shared its quarterly Shareholder Letter that highlighted its financial results for the fourth quarter and full fiscal year 2016, which ended Mar. 26. Its revenue for fiscal 2016 was up 28% to $1.2 billion. That was higher than analysts’ estimates of $1.16 billion.

While its sales climbed 31%, its earnings per share fell 10% to $2.40. Cirrus also showed the company’s outlook, in which the company guided to fiscal Q1 revenues of $220 million to $250 million, which short of consensus estimates of roughly $256 million.

To stay viable as an investment opportunity, Cirrus must continue this kind of revenue growth. It must also continue to improve the median net profit margins so that it has operating leverage.

This is especially important if the company’s contribution to the upcoming iPhone 7 does not pan out. Apple is thought to be in the process of replacing its analog headphone jack for the iPhone 7 to add another speaker for stereo audio output. Rumors have abounded that Apple is working with Cirrus to change the audio chipset so that it works with the iPhone’s Lightning port.

The problem with this switch is that since the new iPhone may not have that standard audio port, the company’s current Ear Pod headphones will be incompatible. That could discourage buyers from purchasing the new iPhone.

No matter, if Apple does not make this audio port change, Apple’s need for Cirrus may be quashed. This means Cirrus must have a fallback.

Investors can take some comfort in the company’s supply chain teams being heavily engaged in new product ramps, take outs and design activity. Company officials stressed this during its earnings conference call last week in which it also noted that it has ramped a new flagship, multi-core smart codec with a key customer.

These products combine audio analog-to- digital converters (ADCs) and digital-to- analog converters (DACs) into single integrated circuits designed to provide maximum flexibility, features and performance.

Cirrus has also begun shipping a new boosted amplifier at another tier 1 smartphone customer, but it did not identify the customer during the conference call.

 

 · Then there’s Jabil Circuit

 

When Jabil Circuit reported its earnings, it noted that 24% of its total revenue came from Apple during its second quarter of fiscal 2016. Jabil Circuit slightly missed expectations for its Q2 fiscal 2016 reporting earnings per share of $.57 cents on sales of $4.4 billion, versus analyst expectations of $.60 in EPS and $4.5 billion of sales.

That is disconcerting, but I point to the company’s balance sheet as an example of its potential to grow steadily over the long term.

Another fallback that could take up the slack from less than stellar earnings related to Apple is the company’s Nypro healthcare business. The company has begun “leaning hard” into that business, according to its CEO Mark Mondello.

Nypro provides manufactured precision plastic products for customers in the healthcare, packaging and consumer electronics industries. It was acquired by Jabil Circuit in 2013. The company is expecting Nypro to be a healthy cash generator due to the hardware platforms it offers customers.

Jabil Circuit is also a leading provider of outsourced electronics manufacturing services (NYSE:EMS). This arm produces parts for consumer electronics, such as computers and smartphones. Jabil Circuit is banking on the scale and broad diversification of this business to provide “a stable, predictable, foundational backbone to our core business,” according to Mondello. He noted that the core operating income from EMS will grow 15% to 20% year-on-year, and core operating margins are hoped to grow beyond 3%.

When it reported its earnings, Jabil Circuit noted that 24% of its total revenue came from Apple during its second quarter of fiscal 2016. Jabil Circuit slightly missed expectations for its fiscal 2016 Q2, which ended Feb. 29. It reported earnings per share of 57 cents on sales of $4.4 billion, vs. analyst expectations of 60 cents EPS and $4.5 billion in sales.

Many observers are banking on Apple improving its financials after it rolls out another version of the iPhone later this year. This, in turn, could boost the earnings of its suppliers. On the other hand, the saturation of the smartphone market cannot be ignored; investors must take into account that the record profits Apple derived from iPhone sales in the past are over. The Apple suppliers that recognize this and who are able to shift gears to maintain, and improve their financials over the long term should be able to weather the Apple downturn.





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