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This just in: Maybe Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) doesn't hate OmniVision Technologies (Nasdaq: OVTI) after all.

Analyst firm Robert W. Baird believes that the camera-chip specialist is back in Apple's good graces. When the iPad 3 is unveiled on Wednesday, Baird expects OmniVision cameras front and back. If Apple introduces a smaller, seven-inch version of the popular tablet as well, Baird thinks OmniVision would sweep that contract, too.

If that rosy outlook weren't enough, Baird even expects the company to make a comeback in the next iPhone as a second supplier to fresh incumbent Sony (NYSE: SNE).

OmniVision shares jumped as much as 8.7% on the bullish note, which came complete with a "buy" upgrade and a $23 price target. For the record, Baird's target price is 45% above last night's closing price.

The upgrade aligns Baird with recent OmniVision bull, Canaccord Genuity, which sees an opportunity to "recapture market share in the smartphone segment" with a $20 target. But, not every analyst sings OmniVision's praises: Lazard Capital sees "no further upside" to OmniVision's Apple business in 2012 and thinks the stock is fairly valued already.

OmniVision investors have learned to fear Baird already. The firm was among the first to suggest that Sony had won the main camera spot in the iPhone 4S (by any other name). These guys have proved their mettle in this very specific field, and I wouldn't be surprised if Baird nailed this call too. I wrote that old warning off as unrealistic, but was proven wrong when the iPhone finally showed up.

I'd certainly like it if Baird were right -- I'm still an OmniVision shareholder after all. But the proof-packed pudding won't be served until independent firms rip the new tablet apart to inspect the chips with microscopes and x-ray scanners. In the meantime, OmniVision is still cheap as long as the wheels don't fall off the growth wagon entirely. Add the stock to your Foolish watchlist and read up on some other chips we'll likely see again in the next iPad.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.