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It was hard to miss the splash Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) made earlier this week. After a bearish run-up that saw its stock drop almost 15% in two weeks, the iPhone maker crushed earnings estimates by 22%. Shares jumped 9% Wednesday, pushing the Nasdaq to its best day of the year with a 2.3% gain and the S&P 500 more than 1% higher.
While a 9% surge is hard to top, one stock riding Apple's coattails actually beat it that day. Shares of Cirrus Logic (Nasdaq: CRUS ) , a key supplier of audio circuits to Apple, jumped more than 10% on the Mac maker's earnings and then outdid itself Thursday with an encore performance, sending shares up as high as 19% after it released earnings Wednesday night. The tech company posted a profit of $0.36 a share, $0.02 ahead of estimates, and issued a bullish outlook for the coming year, based on what many interpreted as the rollout of a new iPhone in the "September quarter."
What is Cirrus?
Founded in 1984, this Austin, Texas-based company makes signal processing components for audio and energy markets and specializes in complex chip designs. The company holds more than 1,000 patents that serve more than 700 products.
A change in the company's fortunes came when it decided to focus on its strength in audio chips, which helped it win Apple's business. The move paid off handsomely, as sales have doubled since 2007 and its share price is up tenfold since bottoming during the recession. Today, 63% of its revenues come from supplying Apple, which some see as a vulnerability. The company is trying to branch out again, producing chips that enable LED light bulbs to dim, a market expected to grow to $11.5 billion by 2013. For now, hitching its wagon to Apple's stars still looks like a winning strategy.
The supplier connection
What's great about a company like Cirrus is that it offers investors the best of both worlds: a ride on Apple's rocket as well as other growth opportunities befitting a small tech company. Many on this site have made a similar argument in favor of Corning (NYSE: GLW ) , maker of the Gorilla Glass that's used in iPhones and iPads. That stock has struggled of late, however, because of problems in the LCD market.
Debate will continue to rage over Apple's future. Bears jumped on reports that iPhone sales at AT&T (NYSE: T ) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) had declined last quarter as evidence that Apple's death grip on the smartphone market was finally weakening. International sales more than made up for that loss, but the future of the world's biggest company is anyone's guess.
For Apple shareholders looking for a bullish hedge, Cirrus answers with a clarion call.
The audio-chip maker isn't the only company benefiting from changing technology: 3-D-printing technology, which enables easy production of everything from dental molds to auto parts to architectural models, is on the rise and threatens to disrupt a host of industries from manufacturing to transportation to software. This new technology is just starting to take off now and could be as revolutionary as the original printing press. Find out the "3 Stocks to Own for the Coming Industrial Revolution" In the Fool's brand-new special free report. Get your copy of this brand-new special free report.