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Cameras may not be a new invention, but companies are finding new and better uses for them. Here’s a firm at the forefront of the digital imaging industry, providing the best cameras for smartphones, notebook computers and more.

OmniVision Technologies, Inc (NSDQ: OVTI) manufactures image sensors for phones and other devices with cameras. It pioneered the complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) image sensor for digital cameras and other devices and is the world’s leading CMOS image solutions provider. It sensors are used in industries ranging from security and surveillance to medical imaging.

The firm went public in 2000, and while it’s fairly small, its growth potential is promising.

According to data from Techno Systems Research, the CMOS sensor market is expected to double in five years to 2.6 billion units. That can only swell OmniVision’s coffers. The firm boasts an industry-leading 28 percent market share for all CMOS sensors. OmniVision dominates the smartphone market, accounting for nearly 50 percent of business in this space.

The company is also seeing market share gains across a diversified product line. Unit demand for notebook computer cameras and webcams is expected to grow more than 65 percent by 2013.

Additionally, unit demand for its entertainment device segment is expected to nearly quadruple by 2013 on the back of robust sales of MP3 music players equipped with cameras. OmniVision’s backside illumination sensor (BSI) was used in Apple’s (NSDQ: AAPL) popular iPhone 4. Apple has recently released a new iPod Touch, which also features a front-facing and rear-facing video camera, a potential growth catalyst for OmniVision.

OmniVision may hold the pole position in this field for some time. Years ago the company saw an opportunity in BSI technology, while its competitors backed away from BSI development, deeming it too expensive. It was a prescient move. While other companies are now scrambling to boost their research in BSI, OmniVision has a considerable head start and a track record of success with the technology.

The company casts a wide global shadow, especially in North America, Taiwan and China. But it’s also exploring opportunities in India, the world’s second fastest-growing emerging market. Gaining a foothold in the Indian market would provide OmniVision with another potential long-term growth opportunity.

In the firm’s 2009 fiscal year, management focused on conserving cash to weather the economic downturn, positioning it to expand gross margins and profitability.

In the fiscal year ending April 30, 2010, the firm garnered $603 million in revenue, a 42 percent increase from the previous year, driven by record shipments of 470 million units. OmniVision maintains a strong balance sheet with a sizeable cash cushion for expansion.

In the first quarter of fiscal 2011, OmniVision’s revenue grew 83 percent year over year to $193.1 million. Management expects second-quarter revenue to increase 14 to 24 percent sequentially.

OmniVision’s stock remains relatively inexpensive, and the firm has strong growth potential as it ramps up shipments over the coming years. Its technology commands a leadership position in its industry, and the company has a diverse portfolio of products across a variety of industries and countries.

WHY TO BUY

OmniVision Technologies, Inc

(NSDQ: OVTI, $22.56)

  • Industry’s broadest product portfolio
  • Stellar financial position
  • Market opportunity expected to double in five years

Disclosure: No positions

Source: OmniVision Technologies: Picturing Growth