Mon, Sep 23, 2013 - Page 13 News List

Catcher could receive Samsung windfall

GOOD PROSPECTS: Both Samsung’s likely adoption of metal smartphone casings, and Apple’s plans to diversify its suppliers opens doors for Catcher

By Kevin Chen  /  Staff reporter

An employee arranges Apple’s new iPhone 5c and 5s devices during the launch at the company’s Stanford Shopping Center store in Palo Alto, California, on Friday.

Photo: Bloomberg

Catcher Technology Co (可成科技), which makes metal casings for Apple Inc’s MacBook Air notebook and iPad mini tablet, is likely to receive new smartphone orders early next year, Barclays Capital Securities Taiwan Ltd said.

The new orders will be for Apple’s new iPhone 5S and Samsung Electronics Co’s premium Galaxy series during the first half of next year, Barclays analysts led by Dale Gai (蓋欣山) and Kirk Yang (楊應超) said in a note released on Thursday.

Catcher, which also supplies metal casings for HTC Corp’s (宏達電) smartphones, is likely to benefit from the growing trend of leading smartphone vendors adopting metal casings in their phones. So far, Samsung is the only top-five smartphone brand which is not using metal casing for its products.

However, that could change. South Korea’s Electronic Times newspaper reported on Aug. 30 that Samsung might build a production line at its plant in Gumi, about 260km southeast of Seoul, to produce handset casing from magnesium and aluminium by the end of this year. The world’s largest smartphone brand is likely to apply metal casing to its premium models set to be released early next year, according to a report on the paper’s Web site.

In their note, Barclays analysts said that based on their checks with supply chain companies,

Samsung is close to a final decision on the adoption of metal casings in at least one of its high-end smartphone models from the second quarter next year.

“Our checks suggest Catcher has been qualified as one of the major sources on the total metal casing smartphone volumes at 10 [million to] 30 million next year from Samsung,” the analysts wrote.

“The final order allocation is to be confirmed in early first quarter 2014, subject to price bids by approved vendors,” they added.

Pauline Chen (陳柏齡), an analyst at Credit Suisse AG’s Taipei securities branch, said in a note to her clients on Sept. 4 that if Samsung decides to use metal casing for its flagship model next year, it is very likely to outsource some orders to non-South Korean suppliers in order to meet the requirements for volume and quality.

Chen said Catcher could also gain more orders from Apple next year as the US company is likely to adopt a new strategy to add new electronics manufacturing service (EMS) providers, including Wistron Corp (緯創) and Inventec Corp (英業達), to reduce risks for new products.

“We believe that the news should be positive for independent metal casing suppliers such as Catcher or Ju Teng International Holdings Ltd (巨騰) as these ‘new’ EMS suppliers could prefer to team up with independent casing makers, over their competitors’ casing subsidiaries,” she wrote.

Moreover, Catcher’s increased iPhone orders could help it offset the order losses from HTC, according to Barclays analysts, who predicted a 20 percent annual sales decline for HTC next year from this year.

“The increasing likelihood that Catcher will see iPhone 5S order gains in the first half of 2014 will likely completely offset HTC-related risks,” they said.

Shares of Catcher closed at NT$155 on Wednesday. Barclays reiterated its “overweight” rating on the company’s shares, with a target price of NT$179.

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