Anyone closely following the smartphone and the tablet market would probably have noticed that Apple's (AAPL) precipitous decline from last July's high has dragged along suppliers like Cirrus Logic (CRUS), Corning (GLW), and Qualcomm (QCOM), though the stocks have managed to regain some ground.
If Apple's business is slowing, so should the business of its suppliers, the theory goes. While this may be true for Cirrus Logic, which draws a big chunk of its sales from Apple, it isn't true for Corning and Qualcomm, as the two companies are suppliers to several customers that are doing well. This means that they will fare well in spite of how Apple fares; and should have a place in long-term investment portfolios. In fact, Corning reported a strong Q1 on Wednesday.
But let's take a close look at the two companies.
Financials of the Three Companies
Quarterly Revenue Growth
Quarterly Earnings Growth
*Dec. 31, 2013 **Sept. 25, 2013 ***March 15, 2013
Source: Yahoo Finance
Corning makes Gorilla Glass, which has grown to become a necessity in touch screen devices - including devices powered by Google (GOOG). This is not your everyday windowpane; this glass is made of alkali-aluminosilicate thin-sheet glass. This means that it is almost unscratchable, and more than tough enough to handle daily wear and tear. Apple uses this glass for its iPhone and iPad.
Per CNBC, "Over 200 million devices with Gorilla Glass have sold and after just three years on the market it has 20% of the phone market." Nevertheless, Corning is a large company making a batch of other products, such as flat glass used in flat panel TVs, ceramic filters for pollution control, fiber optic cable, etc. That's why the company managed to beat earnings estimates.
Qualcomm is an innovator and leader in CDMA-based integrated circuits and Radio Frequency (RF) and Power Management (PM) chips and system software that power mobile devices and wireless networks. The company is in a better position than its closest competitor, Texas Instruments (TXN) to ride the exploding market for mobile devices. Last quarter, the company reported that it couldn't make enough chips that go into Apple's latest products like the LTE chip-- a nice problem to have in the long run. Nevertheless, Qualcomm's customer list isn't confined to Apple. It includes Apple's prime competitor Samsung (OTC:SSNLF) and several other Asian suppliers. That's why the company continues to enjoy hefty operating margins, and revenue and earnings growth (see table).