Apple Supplier Gets Vote of Confidence for Sapphire Glass

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GT Advanced Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: GTAT) shares got a boost on Tuesday after price target hike from $13 to $15 from analysts at Canaccord Genuity. The raise is due to Canaccord’s confidence that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) plans to use the company’s sapphire glass in the next iPhone.

Apple has already agreed to provide $578 million in financing for a facility to be built in Arizona by Apple. GT will own and operate the required furnaces and related equipment to produce sapphire glass for Apple. A report earlier this month said that GT had already taken delivery of 518 furnace systems at the new plant. That’s enough equipment to make up to 116 million 5-inch iPhone displays.

There was also a report that Apple would use the sapphire glass only in its rumored iWatch. That report knocked GT’s share price down 5%.

Sapphire glass is more expensive than the Gorilla Glass Apple uses in its current smartphones. Gorilla Glass is made by Corning Inc. (NYSE: GLW) and the conflicting reports have pushed Corning’s share price around, to a new 52-week high of $19.20 last Friday after sinking to around $17 earlier in February.

When GT and Apple announced the new plant last November, demand for sapphire glass was expected to rise by 50% by 2016, and GT expected the contract with Apple to have a positive impact on earnings starting this year. GT, long a supplier to the crystalline solar makers, has suffered a sharp downturn in its business since the price of solar modules collapsed.

GT’s shares have posted a new 52-week high of $12.72 on Tuesday morning. The 52-week low is $2.61 and the stock posted an all-time high above $16 in July of 2011.

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