Shares of Cirrus Logic (Nasdaq: CRUS ) hit a 52-week high on Friday. Let's take a look at how it got there and see whether clear skies are still in the forecast.
How it got here
One word aptly sums up Cirrus Logic's ride to the top: Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) . Apple is responsible for about 70% of Cirrus' revenue stream, so maintaining and/or adding to its presence in upcoming iPhone models is crucial to Cirrus' success.
Cirrus, which provides the audio technology in Apple's iPhone that provides amplification, echo cancellation, and noise suppression, had a very ho-hum quarter highlighted by Apple's drop from selling just 26 million iPhones, as opposed to 35 million in the prior quarter. Where the excitement went off the charts was in Cirrus' second-quarter guidance, which virtually assures that the iPhone 5 launch later this year is expected to be epic. Cirrus is forecasting sequential revenue growth of 70% to 90%, which blew Wall Street estimates clean out of the water. It also served to relieve shareholders who wondered (but assumed) whether Cirrus was the logical audio choice for the next-generation iPhone.
However, things haven't been picture-perfect for iPhone component suppliers. As I highlighted one month ago, most suppliers, with the rare exception of Cirrus Logic and Skyworks Solutions, haven't translated their product and license wins in the iPhone into big stock gains. Broadcom (Nasdaq: BRCM ) , which provides the Wi-Fi/Bluetooth wireless connectivity chips for the iPhone, has seen its share price remain relatively flat over the past year despite surging iPhone sales. Shareholders of TriQuint Semiconductor (Nasdaq: TQNT ) , which provides transit modules for the iPhone, and Nuance Communications (Nasdaq: NUAN ) , the company behind the now-famous Siri speech-recognition software, would love for their stocks to head higher. Both are more than 20% off their 52-week highs.
How it stacks up
To deviate from the norm, this is where we'd usually compare Cirrus Logic against its peers, but the only real competition Cirrus has is against itself.
Cirrus has been on fire over the past five years, and shareholders have very little to complain about.
One area that could potentially be Cirrus' downfall is its overreliance on Apple for its revenue. In good times, Cirrus shares are obviously going to benefit, as we saw with its price surge late last month. However, Cirrus is also very vulnerable to Apple's product cycle. This means that when a new iPhone is due out, consumers will opt to holster their money and wait for the new product rather than purchase the current model, pushing orders out into quarters down the road. That can make for a very erratic and unpredictable sales history; and as you well know, Wall Street hates uncertainty.
Now for the $64,000 question: What's next for Cirrus Logic? That question depends entirely on whether Apple successfully launches its iPhone 5 in the fall and if Cirrus Logic can find a way to diversify its revenue stream beyond just Apple.
Our very own CAPS community gives the company a four-star rating (out of five), with a ridiculous 95.9% of members expecting it to outperform. I've yet to weigh in with a CAPScall on Cirrus Logic, and I'm choosing to yet again continue to wait on the sidelines.
At its current valuation, Cirrus Logic has little room for error. The iPhone 5 launch will need to go flawlessly (and Apple does have a pretty darn good record of launching new products), and Cirrus will need sales strength to carry for at least three quarters. However, we all know that Apple's product cycles are never like clockwork. Cirrus is one of those companies you buy when Apple's sales slow because of natural iPhone product cycles and consider selling when it's a few weeks from launching a next-gen iPhone. With little in the way of revenue diversity, I'll choose to add Cirrus to My Watchlist and keep an eye on it from the sidelines.
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