GT Advanced Technologies (NASDAQOTH: GTATQ ) looked all set to become the next big Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) play. The news that Apple has tied up with GT to produce sapphire displays for the next iPhone has sent the company's stock soaring, with gains of more than 50% in 2014. However, GT's shares crashed almost 8% after the company failed to meet Wall Street expectations in the first quarter. Savvy investors should utilize this drop to buy more GT Advanced shares as the company's growth could accelerate in the future.
Looking beyond the weakness
Despite a weaker-than-expected quarter, GT reaffirmed its full year revenue guidance. This shows that the company is confident regarding its performance going forward. For the full year, it expects revenue of $600 million to $800 million and earnings of $0.02 to $0.18 per share. This compares favorably to Wall Street estimates that were looking for revenue of $693.8 million and earnings of $0.10 per share.
GT has an ambitious target of attaining $1 billion in revenue in 2015, and earnings per share of more than $1.50 in 2016. It is counting on a ramp-up in sapphire production to drive results going forward. Since GT has already tied up with Apple to supply sapphire displays, it should be able to achieve its target.
Progressing with Apple
Apple is utilizing GT's proprietary knowhow of the advanced sapphire furnace (ASF) technology. Both companies entered into a $578 million agreement last year, allowing Apple to lock in supply of sapphire that it uses for camera lenses and the protective disk for the Touch ID home button in the iPhone 5s. Going forward, the application of sapphire is expected to improve with Apple exploring options to replace traditional glass with sapphire for the iPhone display. Sapphire can be used to produce an almost un-scratchable alternative to traditional glass, while being thinner and lighter.
GT has also entered into a strategic partnership with a leading glass substrate producer that develops specialty engineered materials that can be bonded with ultra-thin sapphire lamina to create cutting-edge sapphire glass solutions. GT is progressing rapidly to address Apple's needs, and the use of a sapphire display in the next iPhone will be a big boost for the company.
The company recently announced that is about to commercialize its new ASF165 sapphire growth furnaces. The company expects high-quality commercial volume production by the third quarter, indicating that the iPhone 6 might come with a sapphire display since it will go into production at around the same time.
Positive product-related moves
GT is also working on advanced technologies to improve its position in other markets. GT's Merlin technology should improve its standing in the downstream solar equipment marketplace as it photovoltaic (PV) module offers significant improvements in solar cell efficiency, weight, flexibility, durability, and total system cost. Further, the company also states that this technology will not be exclusively available for any one potential customer.
This means that GT will be able to tap numerous solar industry players with this technology, leading to growth in the business.
GT Advanced is also developing its Hyperion technology to produce 2-inch full sapphire foils at 28 micron thickness consistently, thus strengthening its product portfolio. Looking ahead, the company plans to attain 12 micron thickness with an aim to improve efficiency. Also, GT is working with a European partner that is a global leader in specialty bonding and material handling products. The two companies are working together on various aspects such as high-value production processes and the equipment necessary to bond ultra-thin sapphire and silicon carbide lamina to engineered substrates.
The bottom line
GT Advanced anticipates 2014 to be a transformational year. The company expects to see a boom in its sapphire materials business, while the prospects in the solar market are also looking positive. It is also focused on product development. Finally, its stock looks cheap at a forward P/E ratio of 16. Hence, investors should consider making the most of GT Advanced Technologies' recent drop as looks like a good long-term bet.
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