Awaiting iPhone 6: Buy or sell supplier stocks?

iPhone 6: A boon for Asian supplier stocks?

With Apple widely expected to take the wraps off its latest smartphone Tuesday, hopes are high that the iPhone 6 would boost the revenue of many of its Asian suppliers.

But for investors looking to cash in on the event by piling into the shares of Apple suppliers, the outcome is less straightforward if past performance is any guide.

A recent report from HSBC showed that, apart from the iPhone 4's launch back in 2011, Apple supplier stocks typically rise ahead of a new iPhone announcement, only to fall soon after.

A recent report from HSBC showed that, apart from the iPhone 4's launch back in 2011, Apple supplier stocks typically rise approximately 2 percent on average in the two-week period before the announcement, only to fall 1 percent a week post-event and down 4 percent a month later.

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"If you look historically, the stocks tend to rise into the Apple announcement – a lot of anticipation going into them and then fades," Steven Pelayo, regional head of technology research at HSBC, told CNBC.

He cites the fading euphoria post-launch as investors question the actual end demand and whether the phone meets market expectations. "Company-specific execution risks within the supply chain have also weighed on the shares in the past," Pelayo added.

The report was compiled based on the stock performances of 30 Apple suppliers in Asia, charted annually since 2010 during the iPhone announcements.

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But the potential initial sell-off aside, HSBC remains overweight on a majority of the Apple-related stocks in the region, attributing the iPhone's huge fan base and new smartphone features that could win over users.

"Many investors are already calling for a typical sell-off post-launch, but we view historical data as inconclusive on an individual stock basis," said Pelayo.

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"Clearly, optimism around the iPhone 6 is running high given Apple's user loyalty and installed base of more than 300 million iPhones, which could drive a big upgrade cycle. The larger screen size may also help to regain lost market share to Android," he noted.

Many analysts are touting the iPhone 6 as a game-changer in Asia for Apple, which in recent times have suffered from stiff competition from rivals like Samsung Electronics and Chinese newcomers like Xiaomi.

According to Bryan Ma, associate vice president at IDC, if the latest iPhone offering impresses on features, it could attract new users in the region, even in China.

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"Phablets [which boast bigger screens than a smartphone] have been a hit among early adopters in Asia's mature market, so if iPhone 6 does deliver on screen size, it could resonate quite well, even if priced at a premium," he said.

This bodes well for Apple suppliers, says HSBC, who likes Taiwanese plays like Hon Hai, ASE Largan and ZDT.

"While there may be some short-term [market] volatility, our favorite names are those that have a history of execution and the potential to positively surprise," said Pelayo.