NXP Semiconductors NV Isn't Your Average Apple Supplier

While fellow Apple suppliers are falling, NXPI holds steady with its broad portfolio of products.

Chris Kuiper, CFA
Chris Kuiper, CFA
Aug 19, 2015 at 5:11PM
Technology and Telecom

This article was originally published on Aug. 19, 2015, and was updated on Dec. 21, 2015. 

Shares of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) slid after a disappointing earnings release in late July and are sliding again at the end of the year amid worries that iPhone sales are slowing. Predictably, the recent slide has taken down many of Apple's suppliers along with it. However, NXP Semiconductors (NASDAQ:NXPI) has held its ground, actually gaining during this period despite some of its growth estimates tied to getting its chips into the iPhone. This demonstrates one of NXPI's greatest strengths -- a broad portfolio of products that will benefit from the general Internet of Things megatrend.

NXPI Chart

NXPI data by YCharts

These companies all have one thing in common: They supply chips to Apple, largely in the iPhone. NXP supplies both the near-field communication chips used for contactless payments such as Apple Pay and the chip that powers the sensor hub. Skyworks Solutions (NASDAQ:SWKS), along with Avago Technologies (NASDAQ:AVGO) and Qorvo (NASDAQ:QRVO), provide multiple power amplifiers and radio frequency chips that enable wireless connectivity. Broadcom (UNKNOWN:BRCM.DL) supplies baseband chips, and ARM Holdings (NASDAQ:ARMH) is a fabless chipmaker that earns royalties on all chips that use their architecture, including those in Apple products; analysts estimate Apple provided 20% to 25% of their royalty revenue last year.

A two-sided coin
Many of the companies I've mentioned hit it big once Apple decided to use their chips in the iPhone. But like leverage, this cuts both ways, and now that some analysts are cutting back their iPhone sales estimate, some of these stocks are feeling the heat.

NXP has certainly benefited as well, but its chips in the iPhone aren't the only growth story it has going for it, and it certainly isn't the only product it has. In fact, NXP is getting to be a bit of a behemoth of a chip company -- now that its merger with Freescale Semiconductor is complete, it is the fourth-largest semiconductor manufacturer.  

NXP's business segments are divided into five categories, with each making up approximately 20% of revenue. The secure connected devices segment not only includes the mobile transaction products, but also microcontrollers used in a variety of electronics and Internet of Things applications. This segment is growing at double-digit rates along with their secure interfaces and power segment that is benefiting from all of the cellular data consumption and other radio-frequency chips.

With its lower growth rates, the automotive business segment may not be as sexy, but cars are increasingly being packed with more computer chips for use in entertainment, navigation, and in-vehicle networking. The other advantage to automotive is the long product cycle. Unlike consumer electronics, which can change chip components on a dime, once a product finally makes it into a car design, it tends to stay there a few years, giving the company a reliable revenue stream.

Related Articles

Finally, the secure identification solutions and standard products segments are the slowest-growing, but NXP continues to be an industry leader in a number of these products, such as RFID tags and chip-based banking cards.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
For those who want to benefit from a large and far-reaching megatrend like the Internet of Things, but still have the stability of a large-cap company with a diversified portfolio, NXP may fit the bill. As Apple and its chip suppliers stumble, NXP has shown its stability, and the fact that it can still benefit from the iPhone and secular growth trends such as Apple Pay gives it an extra growth option or "kicker" to boot.