Profit Opportunity, Part 2: The “Smart” Play

Yesterday, I discussed the dramatic rise in the “smartphone” and tablet PC markets around the world. In the third quarter of last year, shipments of smartphones rose 95% to an estimated 81 million units. And tablet PC sales are expected to increase by 57% a year for the next four years.

The most visible company in both of these segments is Apple with its iPhone and iPad. But Apple isn’t the company to invest in to make big money.

Apple is far too big and far too obvious a play on these trends. Its stock price has shot up 295% in the last two years.

Instead, we will look to a small company in Santa Clara, California that makes a component that’s in every iPhone — and, rumor has it, will supply a critical component for the next generation of iPads.

The component they make is considered to be the “gold standard” of image sensors. (Which is a fancy way of saying they make it possible for people to take all those pictures and videos with their iPhones.)

The name of the company is OmniVision Technology (OVTI) — and it has all the makings of a huge winner.

OVTI is the world’s leading supplier of CMOS image sensors for the mobile phone market. And it isn’t reliant on the success of just the iPhone or iPad. It is also a major supplier for Nokia, Research in Motion, and Samsung, to name a few.

What that means to us is that we don’t care who “wins” in the smartphone market. We could still see gains, thanks to every phone sold — no matter who makes it.

And that doesn’t even start to cover the other markets that OmniVision is involved in. Tablet PCs, netbooks, webcams, even medical imaging.

The company recently reported second-quarter results, and revenues jumped 24% compared to the first quarter. The company was also named to numerous “best of” lists covering the tech sector.

The stock price has pulled back in the last few days on concerns that Sony is going after OmniVision’s core business. But I truly believe these fears are unfounded. The core business for OmniVision is its BSI chip technology, which Sony already abandoned once after being unable to produce the chips cost-effectively. And with a nearly four-year head start on Sony, OmniVision isn’t going to lose market share to them any time soon.

I recommended OmniVision to readers of the Liberty Street League’s “World’s Least Expensive Portfolio” back in May when the stock was trading just under $17 per share. The stock is currently around $30 per share, so my readers who got in early are already sitting on a 75% gain.

But there is plenty of upside left in this stock, and the recent pullback in share price provides an attractive entry point. OmniVision presents a fantastic opportunity to see steady gains as the smartphone and tablet PC markets explode over the next few years.

[Ed. Note: Christian Hill created the World’s Least Expensive Portfolio to make investing fun again. Investing in the entire portfolio costs less than $800, and you can never lose more than $100 on a single trade. It’s not only affordable, it’s very profitable! The portfolio is currently up over 40%!]