Shares of Apple(AAPL) - Get Report supplier InvenSense (INVN) rocketed on Friday, after an upgrade and signs that Pokémon Go and other augmented reality games and apps apps will drive demand for its chips.
InvenSense makes gyroscopes and accelerometers that allow phones to keep track of movement as people chase virtual Pokémon.
Pacific Crest analyst John Vinh upgraded the company to overweight on Friday and set a target of $9 per share, pointing to importance of the company's motion sensors to Pokémon Go and other augmented reality games and apps. "Without a gyro in a smartphone, users are unable to effectively play Pokémon Go today because of limited navigation capabilities," he wrote.
Shares of InvenSense gained 85 cents, or 12.5%, to $7.65 on Friday.
Users in the U.S., U.K. and Germany have already spent $250 million on in-game purchases via Pokemon Go, London market-research firm YouGov estimates. The bulk of the spending, about $200 million, is in the U.S.
And Pokémon Go is only the beginning, the firm suggests. "Brands including the likes of Harry Potter and Game of Thrones must now be eyeing ways to make the most of the opportunities that augmented reality gaming offers," YouGov noted in a report.
InvenSense CEO Behrooz Abdi discussed the opportunity with investors during the company's late-July earnings call.
"We didn't necessarily [forecast] that something like Pokémon Go was going to come along but we always felt that augmented reality was going to come along at some point,' he said."Obviously the last few weeks have been, have frenzy of inbound interest from the customers in terms of the interest that they're seeing and now, it's a great opportunity for us to, so we'll capitalize on that."
STMicroelectronics(STM) - Get Report is InvenSense's top rival, according to the company's annual report, and is also chasing the Pokémon Go opportunity. Other competitors include Analog Devices Inc.(ADI) - Get Report , Panasonic and Sony(SNE) - Get Report .
Apple is InvenSense's largest customer, representing 46% of net sales. Galaxy-maker Samsung (SSNLF) is another big client. However, lower-end phones present a major opportunity for InvenSense.
"These [lower-end] market segments now addressable by us, [have] traditionally not adopted gyro's for purely cost reason," he said. "They are currently the fastest-growing segments of the mobile market with 400 million to 500 million units collectively according to industry estimates."
For every 10% of this market that InvenSense can gain, Pacific Crest's Vinh calculates, the company can add 11 cents to 2018 earnings per share.
One of the top risks to InvenSense is that Pokémon Go does not launch in China, Vinh suggested. The game has been available in Japan and Hong Kong since July, and in August expanded to Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, the Philippines, Singapore and other nations throughout Asia and the Pacific.