You won't find many stocks that have performed better than NXP Semiconductors (NASDAQ:NXPI) over the past year. The stock is up 52% versus a still-remarkable-but-more-modest 25% for the S&P 500.
Credit Android for the gains. Samsung's hot-selling Galaxy S III includes NXP's near-field communications, or NFC, chips for powering wireless payments via Google's Wallet app. The S III has sold more than 20 million units as of this writing.
For those unfamiliar, NFC is a short-distance radio communications technology for exchanging data between two devices. For Google Wallet, this means placing an NFC chip in a phone and matching it to a reader. Retailers that embrace the concept could just as easily swipe a handset as a credit card.
Longer-term, proponents of NFC generally and NXP specifically say the company will see a bounty of new profits when Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) finally adopts NFC in the iPhone, helping accelerate iTunes' transformation into a mobile wallet. Not likely.
Here are two reasons why these dreamers are destined to be disappointed:
- Google Wallet doesn't need NFC in order to be a success. I've personally used my "wallet" to purchase movie tickets using my iPhone. Only a few clicks required.
- Check-in and connect services already connect to e-payment services. Both Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN) and PayPal are actively developing iPhone e-payments services knowing there's no onboard support for NFC technology.
Even so, there may be merit to the rumors of an NFC iPhone in our future. Apple recently acquired NFC expertise via its July purchase of AuthenTec (NASDAQ:AUTH). The company's AES2750 sensor system uses fingerprint biometrics to secure NFC-capable mobile wallets. It's fair to say the Mac maker is at least considering NFC payments in a future version of its signature handset.
And if it doesn't happen? Again, so what? NXP long ago earned its spot on our Motley Fool Rule Breakers scorecard, and all signs point to further adoption of NXP's advanced chip designs in top-of-the-line Android smartphones.
Nokia (NYSE:NOK) may also help to sharpen NXP's profit picture. The Finnish phone maker is already an NXP customer; imagine if its future Windows smartphone designs are built to handle NFC transactions as deftly as Android alternatives.
So don't get hung up waiting for NXP to ink a deal with Apple. With or without the iEmpire, there's still plenty to like about NFC technology generally and NXP specifically.
Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of Apple and Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's web home, portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Google+ or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.
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