KEY POINTS
  • Globalstar, based in Louisiana, is providing satellite services to Apple, which is getting a chance to buy up to 2.64% of Globalstar's outstanding shares.
  • Apple will rely on the Globalstar service to enable iPhones to send emergency messages.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at an event at the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California, on Sept. 7, 2022. At a presentation dubbed Far Out, Apple is set to unveil the iPhone 14 line, a fresh slate of smartwatches and new AirPods.

Mobile satellite-communications company Globalstar saw its shares jump as much as 42% after being halted for news during Wednesday's trading session. The company disclosed during Apple's annual fall hardware launch event that it would be operating a satellite-powered emergency SOS service for the forthcoming iPhone 14. The stock closed down 1% but was up about 2% after hours.

The stock quickly gave up most of those gains and is currently trading up about 5% for the day, after being down more than 10% prior to the announcement. Nonetheless, the stock move shows how exposure to a large technology company such as Apple can have a significant impact on a smaller entity's operations.

In early 2020, Globalstar said it had agreed to provide services for a "potential customer" that it did not name. On Wednesday Globalstar revealed in a regulatory filing that customer is Apple.

A copy of the agreement shows that Apple can elect to receive warrants to buy up to 2.64% of Globalstar's outstanding stock at $1.01 per share. But Apple isn't obligated to receive the warrants.

Globalstar now sees 2023 revenue between $185 million and $230 million, depending partly on the degree to which it achieves goals tied to its Apple deal. Analysts polled by Refinitiv had previously expected $130.6 million in 2023 revenue from the company.

"The Company expects these financial metrics to continue to improve significantly by 2026, which is expected to be the first full year in which the new satellites are operational, with total revenue expected to increase by approximately 35% compared to the 2023 forecast driven primarily by revenue growth under the Partnership Agreements," Globalstar said.

Apple agreed to pay Globalstar for 95% of approval capital spending tied to the new satellites and other costs, according to Wednesday's filing. Globalstar said that as part of the agreement, it must raise more debt capital to to launch the new satellites.

A satellite connection for iPhones had been expected at least since 2021. Analysts at B Riley, who have a buy rating on Globalstar stock, said in a note last month that they suspected the potential mystery customer was Apple.

Apple said on Wednesday that a compatible iPhone's antennas will be able to connect to a satellite and communicate in places where there's no regular cellular connectivity, and that a phone will compress a message to accelerate delivery to a ground station, which can then pass the message to emergency responders.

Globalstar's infrastructure launched in the late 1990s through a partnership with Loral Space and Communications and Qualcomm. The Louisiana-based company filed for bankruptcy and received backing from privately held investment firm Thermo before a 2006 initial public offering.

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