Apple’s iPhone 5: Rumors and Beneficiaries

Apple Store
Flickr: hairygrumpy
Apple Store

With rumors of a June launch swirling around the Apple iPhone, attention is shifting to what’s inside the eagerly anticipated device.

Japanese website Macotakara reports that Foxconn is hiring 18,000 employees to prepare for a June launch of Apple’s fifth-generation smartphone.

Intriguingly, Apple has filed a patent application for an iPhone made entirely of glass. This could be for the new iPhone, or a future version of the product.

Investor sentiment is certainly running high, with analysts significantly raising their Apple price targets. One analyst went so far as to put a $1,001 price target on the company, primarily due to the forthcoming iPhone.

Although often referred to as the iPhone 5, the new phone’s name remains clouded in secrecy. Apple did away with the numbered sequence for its latest iPad, simply choosing to call it “The new iPad.” It is very possible Apple may choose to follow the same course with future iPhones, as CEO Tim Cook makes subtle changes to the Cupertino, Calif.-based technology giant.

If the new iPhone is scheduled for a June release, the rumor mill will ramp up sharply in the coming months. Nonetheless, here’s a list of features that could be present in Apple’s latest smartphone:

What It Will Look Like

Despite initial claims that the iPhone 4S was more evolutionary than revolutionary, it certainly didn’t hurt the tech giant’s sales. Apple’s design team, led by Jonny Ive, may push the envelope with the new phone.

There have been rumors that Apple may increase the screen size of the phone, from 3.5-inches to 4.6-inches. Apple has not changed the iPhone’s screen size since the device was launched in 2007. From what we have seen before, though, it’s not in Apple’s DNA to change what’s already working so well.

The phone’s thickness, however, may be slightly altered. With the next iPhone expected to offer Long Term Evolution (LTE) capabilities, the battery may need to be larger. The iPhone 4S is 4.5-inches in height, and 2.31-inches in width, with a depth of 0.37-inches. The latest iPhone weighs 4.9-ounces.

The casing of Apple’s next smartphone could be all aluminum, if Apple decides to do away with the glass backing on the current phones.

Who Benefits

Since Apple announced that the new iPad would run on LTE high-speed networks from AT&T and Verizon Communications, everyone immediately assumed the next iPhone would be LTE-capable as well. Both AT&T and Verizon could therefore see revenues rise, as more customers adopt 4G phones with higher-priced data plans. It also allows the telecom companies to cut back on capital expenditures on their 3G networks.

Texas Instruments is rumored to be making power management chips for the next iPhone, according to the Apple Insider website. The Texan chipmaker is already an Apple supplier, with chips in the new iPad, and may be in the new iPhone.

Despite Texas Instruments experiencing weakness in their wireless division, Raymond James analyst J. Steven Smigie said that “...the potential for Texas Instruments’ wireless businesses remains healthy as they penetrate adjacent markets with their applications processors.” The analyst rates Texas Instruments shares “outperform” with a $38 price target. Shares have gained 13.64 percent since the start of 2012.

Other semiconductor companies, such as Skyworks Solutions, are also likely to benefit from the new iPhone, if history is any guide. JMP analyst Alex Gauna believes Skyworks could benefit if the iPhone is LTE-capable, as many expect it to be.

“We expect Skyworks’ content to increase again with the iPhone 5 due to form factor sensitivity, more rigorous power constraints, and the demands of servicing broader global voice/data requirements,” Gauna wrote in a March research report. He rates Skyworks “market outperform” with a $40 price target.

Other chip manufacturers, like Qualcomm and TriQuint Semicoonductor, may also benefit, given their history with Apple.

Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Walkley believes Qualcomm is poised to benefit from the increased ramp in LTE smartphones. He also notes Apple is maintaining its strong December quarter share gains.

“Based on our monthly channel checks, we believe global smartphone trends are strong, with feature phones transitioning to smartphones in emerging markets and an upcoming ramp of LTE smartphones driving strong demand for Qualcomm’s S4 Snapdragon chipsets,” Walkley wrote in a recent research note. He rates Qualcomm shares “buy” and raised his price target from $75 to $80. Shares are up 25.01 percent year-to-date.

Craig Hallum’s Anthony Stoss notes that TriQuint may benefit from an LTE-version of the iPhone, as the phone could have approximately $10 worth of radio frequency content inside it. Stoss estimates that Apple represents approximately 41 percent of TriQuint’s revenue.

“We continue to believe average content to the RF semiconductor players could jump to roughly $8 per global LTE handset (far greater than the $4 to $5 that we think the Street is still assuming), with some higher-end models containing even more. Given this significant tailwind, we remain bullish on the RF semiconductor space and would favor [Skyworks] and [TriQuint] at current levels,” Stoss wrote in a March research report. He has a “buy” rating and a $8 price target on TriQuint. Shares are up 37.37 percent year-to-date.

While specific details of the new iPhone, and its release date, are unknown, the only certainty we have is that the rumor-mill will heat up.

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