GT Advanced Technologies Basks in Apple’s Glow

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GT Advanced Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: GTAT) has had its ups and downs over the past five years, as the solar PV industry for which it builds the equipment to make solar modules and panels experienced a boom-and-bust cycle of near-biblical proportions. But the company has made a comeback and posted an all-time high share price around $18 early Friday morning.

Apple is providing $578 million in financing for a facility to be built in Arizona. GTAT will own and operate the required furnaces and related equipment to produce sapphire glass for Apple. A report last month said that GTAT had already taken delivery of 518 furnace systems at the new plant. That is enough equipment to make up to 116 million five-inch iPhone displays.

Apple currently uses sapphire glass for the fingerprint-recognition button and to cover the camera lens on the iPhone 5s. Sapphire glass is about three times harder and more scratch resistant than the Gorilla Glass from Corning Inc. (NYSE: GLW) that Apple currently uses for its iPhones. It is also more expensive and heavier. Cost estimates range from a low of around $9 to a high of $30 for an iPhone-size piece of sapphire glass, compared with $3 for Gorilla Glass.

GTAT’s share price has gotten a boost from analysts at Goldman and Credit Suisse, where both have raised their ratings to the equivalent of Buy. Goldman initiated coverage with a price target of $20, and Credit Suisse raised its target from $18 to $24 Friday morning.

GTAT shares traded up about 3.9% to $17.64, after posting that new all-time high of $18.01 earlier. The stock’s 52-week low is $2.63.