Did Universal Display Just Confirm Apple's OLED iWatch?

Thanks to a quasi-upgrade from the folks over at JMP Securities, Universal Display  (NASDAQ: OLED  )  shareholders were jumping for joy Monday as their stock popped nearly 7%.

As fellow Fool Anders Bylund astutely pointed out, the firm didn't really provide any particularly new information, but instead reiterated its outperform rating and $50-per-share price target on the stock following a predisclosed meeting with Universal Display management.

In short, Universal Display's management left JMP with the continued impression the company will not only meet or exceed its fourth-quarter guidance, but also stands to benefit from three key growth drivers in 2014, including the extension of Samsung's OLED tech into new smartphones, LG Display (NYSE: LPL  ) 's entry into the OLED market, and the launch of an OLED-based smart watch from none other than Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) .

Nothing we didn't already know?
I've already gone out on a limb to rebuke recent rumors that Samsung could be ditching Universal Display's flagship OLED technology. What's more, I've taken plenty of notes as LG Display's not-so-quiet expansion into the OLED industry continues to unfold.

Now, however, you can bet the Apple news is what has investors so riled up. Why? Because while Universal Display already counts both LG Display and Samsung among its paying customers, a win with Apple simply hasn't been made official yet.

In fact, up until this point, inquisitive investors have relied primarily on supply chain speculation and anonymous sources describing an impending deal for LG Display to produce small, flexible OLED screens for the Cupertino-based tech giant -- presumably for an iWatch device to be launched in late 2014.

Of course, there was also that interesting comment from Universal Display CEO Steve Abramson back in May, when he curiously felt the need to point out Apple had recently filed a patent for a new flexible AMOLED wrist-worn display. What's more, another more recent patent application shows Apple has been hard at work correcting the color issues for which Apple CEO Tim Cook criticized OLED earlier this year.

Here's the kicker
But by my count, this stands as the first analyst note that has specifically called out Universal Display's relationship with Apple outside of any completely speculative context -- and immediately following a meeting with Universal Display management, at that.

Call me crazy, but something tells me JMP wouldn't climb out on such a precarious perch unless it felt especially confident its assertions would come to fruition, and it seems reasonable to assume Universal Display management provided that confidence.

Time will tell whether we'll all be proven correct. But as the picture becomes clearer by the day, I remain as confident as ever asserting that Universal Display's technology will ultimately find its way into Apple's massively popular devices.

So hold on, Universal Display investors, because the best is yet to come.

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  • Report this Comment On December 20, 2013, at 2:20 PM, justinr wrote:

    Thanks for this report Steve, that would be an encouraging development.

    BTW do you know anything about Quantum Dot screen tech, as that seems rumored as a possible other direction Apple will take?

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2013, at 2:19 PM, Sandeybeach wrote:

    Great information. Me & my associate are newbies & are looking forward to a relationship of continued growth!

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2013, at 10:29 PM, Halfmoonman wrote:

    What about this latest report?

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2013/12/30/samsung-sells-...

    "SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Samsung said a 110-inch TV that has four times the resolution of standard high-definition TVs is going on sale for about $150,000 in South Korea.

    The launch Monday of the giant television set reflects global TV makers' move toward ultra HD TVs, as manufacturing bigger TVs using OLED proves too costly.

    Last year, Samsung and rival LG Electronics, the world's top two TV makers, touted OLED as the future of TV. OLED screens are ultrathin and can display images with enhanced clarity and deeper color saturation.

    But Samsung and LG failed to make OLED TVs a mainstream that would replace the LCD television sets and still struggling to mass produce larger and affordable TVs with OLED. Meanwhile, Japanese media reported last week that Sony Corp. and Panasonic Corp. decided to end their OLED partnership.

    Demand for U-HD TVs is expected to rise despite dearth of content while its price will likely come down faster than that of the OLED TVs. Much of the growth is forecast to come from China, a major market for the South Korean TV makers. Chinese TV makers have been making a push into the U-HD TV market as well.

    According to NPD DisplaySearch, global sales of ultra-HD TV sets will surge from 1.3 million this year to 23 million in 2017. More than half of the shipments will be taken by Chinese companies between 2013 and 2017, according to NPD.

    While Chinese TV makers have been seeking to boost sales of U-HD TVs with a lower price and a smaller size, Samsung's strategy is to go bigger with a higher price tag. Samsung's 110-inch U-HD TV measures 2.6 meters by 1.8 meters. It will be available in China, the Middle East and Europe. In South Korea, the TV is priced at 160 million won ($152,000) while prices in other countries vary.

    Samsung said it received 10 orders for the latest premium TVs from the Middle East. Previously, the largest U-HD TV made by Samsung was 85-inch measured diagonally.

    The ultra-HD TVs are also known as "4K" because they contain four times more pixels than an HD TV.

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