At Orbotech (ORBK) , they always say that they are dependent-- for better or worse-- on the world of electronics, on quantities sold, which rise and fall in days of boom and bust, but also on the degree of complexity of the leading gadgets. In recent years, ever since the dizzying success of iPhones, iPads, and their imitators, Orbotech has been doing well in printed circuits, and will continue to do well, because not only are the quantities rising at a very fast rate, but the degree of complexity of these products grows from one generation to the next.
The market knows that Orbotech is just about the only company with the technological know-how to develop inspection, repair, and production systems that can cope at the same time with large quantities and with the complexity of the circuits and their operating environment. For example, it is known that Prior-tech Group unit Amitec, which with great success manufactures chip carriers in China, mainly for smartphones, buys Orbotech machines, despite the longstanding rivalry between the latter and Amitec's sister company Camtek Ltd. (Nasdaq: CAMT). It is likely the recent announcement that Chinese funds will invest $36 million in Amitec's venture in China promises more orders for Orbotech.
The more smartphones, tablets, and thin laptops launched in Las Vegas, and the greater their capabilities, the more Orbotech's printed circuit business will benefit. The company is constantly expanding its range of products in that field, so that in a few years' time, its target market will be several times larger.
Apple (AAPL) will not be at Las Vegas, but its subcontractors in the East are buying, and will buy, Orbotech's platforms in advance of the launch of the next generations of iPhones and iPads.
Weakness in televisions
In its other business of televisions, Orbotech is currently coping with a market in a slowdown that will perhaps only end in the summer, and so its sales will probably be hit this year. Screen makers will invest very little in buying new machines, but, as I have pointed out, Orbotech also benefits from the complexity of the products. In Las Vegas, new television models will be launched with innovative, complex screen technologies. It is not clear whether they will succeed in the markets, but what is certain is that the manufacturers will have to adapt the machines they have bought from Orbotech in the past with new software, and that will contribute to Orbotech's profit line.
Tension will be high in the television market all year, as it awaits the launch of the Apple TV, probably just before the next festive season. This is according to the rumor mill, but the rumor is supported by some serious analysts. The latest rumor has it that Japanese television manufacturer Sharp (SHCAY.PK), a large Orbotech customer, has been selected as one of Apple's main subcontractors. Analysts believe that Apple will invest up to $1 billion in constructing Sharp's production infrastructure, and if that is true, then it is likely that Orbotech will also be invited to the party.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 9, 2012 Reprinted on Seeking Alpha with permission © Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012