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Why This Apple Supplier Is Set to Sizzle This Earnings Season

By Harsh Chauhan – Nov 7, 2018 at 2:45PM

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A strong place in the iPhone and an improving IoT business should give this chipmaker a nice boost.

Skyworks Solutions (SWKS -4.47%) has been sucked into the whirlpool of the broader semiconductor-industry weakness. Shares of the chipmaker are now trading close to their 52-week lows, having underperformed the market for the majority of the year.

But the pessimism could go away once Skyworks releases its fiscal fourth-quarter results on Nov. 8. Skyworks has solid short- and long-term catalysts that could boost investor sentiment, and it wouldn't be a surprise if the company went on a sustained bull run from there. Let's see why.

Hand drawing an upward-trending line.

Image source: Getty Images.

The key catalyst

Apple (AAPL -3.00%) has been a big contributor to Skyworks' sales growth over the years, but Cupertino's focus on boosting the average selling prices of its iPhone line-up while unit sales growth flattens has hurt the chipmaker's top line. That's because Skyworks still gets between 35% and 40% of its revenue from Apple, and a drop in the number of iPhone units manufactured is certainly not good news for the company.

But the status quo could change as Skyworks has gained a lot of space in the new iPhones. For instance, the flagship iPhone XS Max contains a total of eight Skyworks chips. according to a teardown of the device. By comparison, last year's flagship iPhone X had five Skyworks chips, according to a teardown of the device by iFixit.

The iPhone XS reportedly contains five of Skyworks' chips. While there's no news about the iPhone XR yet, I expect Skyworks to retain its power amplifier modules and RF switches in the device as it had scored those spots in the iPhone 8 models last year.

It certainly appears that the chipmaker is strongly placed across Apple's entire iPhone ecosystem, which paves the way for Skyworks to tap into a potential iPhone upgrade cycle. A recent survey suggests that nearly half of Apple's U.S. customers are planning to upgrade to a new iPhone over the next year. By comparison, just 25% of the surveyed consumers had expressed a willingness to upgrade in June 2017.

A big upgrade cycle would help the company clock stronger growth than what Wall Street currently anticipates. The chipmaker's top line is expected to jump just 1.8% year over year during the fiscal fourth quarter, which ended in September, followed by a slower increase of just 1.6% during the following quarter.

That's a far cry from the solid growth that Skyworks enjoyed last year, when its revenue for the quarter ended in September shot up 18% annually, while revenue for the quarter ended in December was up 15%. There's a solid chance that the chipmaker will trump the market's expectations this time thanks to a stronger relationship with Apple, though this isn't the only catalyst the company enjoys.

Another big opportunity

Skyworks has been gradually boosting its presence in the Internet of Things (IoT) space. It now gets around 30% of it revenue from non-mobile sources thanks to its partnerships with Sierra Wireless, BMW, General Motors, and Cisco, among others. These customers are working on different IoT niches, from connected cars to smart homes, putting Skyworks in a strong position to mint big money from this tech trend.

For instance, Skyworks' wireless chips are being used by Philips for powering its connected street lamps. There's a good chance that Skyworks' IoT business will clock another period of strong growth in fiscal Q4.

But the more important thing to note here is that IoT is not just a quarterly catalyst for Skyworks. Ericsson estimates that there will be 18 billion IoT devices online by 2022, up from fewer than 6 billion just two years ago. This would create the need for more of the connectivity chips that Skyworks sells.

Time to go long

In all, the upcoming quarterly report could spark a turnaround and help Skyworks come out of the rut that it has been in so far this year. Buying Skyworks Solutions now would be a good idea as the stock is currently cheap, with a trailing price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 17. This is lower than the industry average P/E ratio of about 22.

Harsh Chauhan has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple, Sierra Wireless, and Skyworks Solutions. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool recommends BMW. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Skyworks Solutions, Inc. Stock Quote
Skyworks Solutions, Inc.
$85.27 (-4.47%) $-3.99
Apple Inc. Stock Quote
Apple Inc.
$138.20 (-3.00%) $-4.28

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