After years of neglect, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) finally redesigned and upgraded its professional desktop offering, the Mac Pro. The high-end machine got a complete overhaul and is packing some notable improvements under the hood. Marvell Technology (NASDAQ: MRVL ) looks like it may be set to benefit from the new models, according to RBC Capital Markets analyst Doug Freedman.
The new Mac Pro uses PCI Express-based flash storage that Apple says is 2.5 times as fast as the previous SATA-based solid state drives. PCI Express, or PCIe, isn't exactly a new technology by any means; its use has just historically been limited to high-end markets.
Freedman believes that Marvell has scored the win to provide the PCIe chips, which could give the company an opportunity to score more business in the future, at Apple and elsewhere. Apple has more power than other OEMs to influence the broader consumer market with adopting technologies, and tapping Marvell could be considered an "endorsement," in Freedman's view.
To that end, Apple's new MacBook Airs also feature PCIe-based flash storage to deliver significant storage performance gains. Apple is now incorporating a high-end technology in its entry-level consumer notebooks, while actually lowering the price of the 13-inch model (no change to the 11-inch model price). That's certainly one way to catalyze adoption.
Apple's broader transition to PCIe-based flash, which will likely continue throughout its lineup, could potentially "lift the bar in terms of storage performance demanded," with Marvell being the most probable beneficiary of that trend. That's why Freedman rates Marvell as an "outperform" with a $15 price target.
Along with Apple, Marvell has long been one of David Einhorn's favorite picks, even though that hasn't worked in his favor recently. At the end of last quarter, Einhorn's Greenlight Capital was sitting on nearly 52 million shares. Through a series of swaps, Greenlight increased its total stake in Marvell to about 12.4%.
Apple might just help Marvell pay off for Einhorn.
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