Cirrus Paints Blue Skies Ahead for Apple

Cirrus Logic (Nasdaq: CRUS  ) is a well-known proxy for Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) gadget sales. Everything from the iPhone to iPads to iMac computers come equipped with audio processors designed by Cirrus.

You may also have noticed that Apple disappointed investors with weak revenues in last week's third-quarter report. In particular, sales of the brutally profitable and extremely high-volume iPhone line came in short of expectations. Some investors worried that the iPhone joyride might be coming to an abrupt halt here. Others, including CEO Tim Cook, took the view that iPhone buyers are sitting on their hands right now because they know there's a better model waiting at the end of the summer.

Well, Cirrus just threw kerosene all over that more optimistic view. The audio-chip expert just reported a mildly anemic first quarter, with $0.22 of non-GAAP earnings per share on $99 million in sales. These figures were slightly below analyst targets.

But Cirrus shares jumped 22% in early after-hours action anyway. You see, the company also presented downright explosive guidance for the second quarter. This period is typically pretty strong, as Apple, its largest customer, orders in chips for the fall-season iPhone upgrade, but the spike is downright ridiculous this time. Cirrus points to sales of roughly $180 million, which would be a 62% jump year over year and 82% compared with the first quarter of 2012.

This could mean a couple of different things. For one, Apple might be planning for absolutely stellar sales of the next iPhone. For another, rumors of another addition to the iStuff family could come true in the form of a smaller tablet. There's also an outside chance that Cirrus landed another large smartphone contract outside Cupertino, but the chip designer hasn't had much luck on that front so far.

So my money is on seeing Apple order up fantastic quantities of audio chips. That's not necessarily the same thing as selling another 100 million iPhones this fall, but the company has rarely met any difficulty moving as many phones as it could make right around introduction time. If nothing else, now we know that Cook is ready to put his wallet where his mouth is.

This bona fide market update should be good news for other well-known Apple suppliers as well, but the market seems slow to react on that vector. Radio-chip guru Skyworks Solutions (Nasdaq: SWKS  ) jumped just 1.6% on Cirrus' news, for example, despite shipping radio chips in every iPhone and iPad. Camera sensor specialist OmniVision Technologies (Nasdaq: OVTI  ) rose just 1%, though that particular player is more of a long-shot beneficiary: OmniVision needs to either win back lost socket space in the iPhone or hope for a new tablet.

It looks like Apple still has fuel left in its growth engines, then. Our senior technology analyst certainly thinks Apple is still a buy. He spills out exactly why in our brand-new premium report on Apple. If you want a broader picture of the smartphone revolution, find out why investors are so excited about this exploding trillion-dollar revolution.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in OmniVision Technologies and has written an options strangle on top of those shares, but holds no other position in any of the companies mentioned. Check out Anders' holdings and bio, or follow him on Twitter and Google+. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Cirrus Logic. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. We Fools don't all hold the same opinion, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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