Tapping Apple With Four Cheaper Stocks

CUPERTINO, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- Apple ( AAPL) is on a tear as its stock price has reached multiple new highs over the past week. While it might make sense to buy Apple in anticipation of a peak on the iPad's April 3 launch date, Apple's current price of about $224 isn't exactly cheap.

There are, however, a handful of tech stocks that allow investors to take a bite out of Apple and its phenomenal swell on the cheap. While most of Apple's future-facing products and suppliers are still shrouded in mystery -- Apple didn't respond to TheStreet's request for comment on this story -- investors are likely to see Apple-related upside in Broadcom ( BRCM), AT&T ( T), SanDisk ( SNDK), and OmniVision ( OVTI).

Alternatively, investors that want to play Apple in the market but avoid the risks associated with one specific stock might want to consider an ETF with a position in Apple. Apple accounts for just over 15% of the PowerShares QQQ Fund ( QQQQ), which has risen more than 77% in the last twelve months.

Other funds offer different levels of Apple exposure, from 9% at the iShares Down Jones U.S Technology ( IYW) fund to 3.1% at the SPDR Morgan Stanley Technology ETF ( MTK).

Analysts also point to telcom-related ETFs like the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Telecom Fund ( IYZ), 16.5% of which is made up of AT&T, an Apple iPad partner. TheStreet's Don Dion has already cited IYZ as the best ETF to gain exposure to AT&T and iPad demand.

Read on for more Apple-related buys.

Broadcom


Most recent closing price: $31.63

iPhone sales are soaring, and Broadcom, which provides Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chips for the iPhone 3GS, stands to reap some of the benefits -- especially if it ends up outfitting the new iPhone Apple is said to be launching this summer.

"Broadcom is a pretty large revenue diversified company, but it will benefit from Apple's success," Daniel Amir, an analyst at Lazard Capital Markets, told TheStreet.
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The iPad could also push Broadcom's revenue up. Although specific details about the iPad haven't been released, the blogosphere has been rife with chatter that Broadcom's chips will somehow fit within the tablet. With Goldman Sachs forecasting that Apple will sell 6 million iPads this year and Wall Street predicting 5 million, the iPad could represent big business for Broadcom.

Broadcom's stock has risen more than 82% in the last 12 months, and Lazard's Amir has rated it as a buy, giving the company a $36 price target. In addition to the company's close Apple ties, he feels that Broadcom could also enjoy an upswing in spending on communication equipment this year.

In an email to TheStreet, Broadcom declined to comment on whether or not its chips will be included inside the iPad and new iPhone.

AT&T


Most recent closing price: $25.56

Despite rumors that AT&T's iPhone deal will end this summer, Apple gave the Dallas telco some upside when it chose AT&T as its iPad partner. In fact, by offering an iPad contract starting at $14.99 a month, AT&T may be dangling a huge carrot in front of Apple.

"I think that maybe they made a price concession to Apple in return for an extension of the iPhone exclusivity deal," Brian Marshall, an analyst at Broadpoint AmTech, told TheStreet. "Logically, you could assume that they get that through year end, or something like that."

AT&T, even while suffering through constant complaints about its network, met analysts' expectations and reported a 26% increase in its fourth-quarter earnings.

"The iPhone has certainly driven AT&T's success in the last couple of years," Marshall said. "I think that AT&T will also do well in the near term off the coattails of Apple, not just from the iPhone, but from the iPad as well."

SanDisk


Most recent closing price: $33.49

If blogosphere chatter counts, storage specialist SanDisk, which describes itself as the global leader in Flash memory cards, might be a new supplier to Apple.

"There is a lot of chatter that SanDisk has the NAND Flash for the new iPhone that is coming out in June," said Lazard Capital Markets analyst Daniel Amir. "That's going to be a big deal when that comes out."

Amir explains that Apple uses a "tremendous amount" of Flash storage in its products and that future iterations of the iPad might feature Flash by SanDisk. Apple, he said, accounts for 20% to 25% of the world's NAND Flash consumption, potentially spelling good news for SanDisk's margins.

SanDisk did not make specific reference to an Apple relationship during its recent fourth-quarter conference call. CEO Eli Harari, however, cited the iPad as an exciting new device that is "demonstrating the significant new opportunities ahead for flash mass storage."

Specific details are hard to come by. "We don't specifically address questions related to our existing or potential customer relationships," explained a SanDisk spokeswoman, in an email to TheStreet.

SanDisk shares have risen more than 300% in the last twelve months. The company has also raised its first-quarter revenue forecast and is anticipating major Flash demand over the coming years.

OmniVision


Most recent closing price: $16.14

Though not the best-known company on this list, OmniVision has been attracting a lot of interest thanks to its role in the digital pictures and video market.

OmniVision sells image sensor technology. There have been rumblings that OmniVision's sensors, which are said to be used in the iPhone 3GS and the iPod, will also appear on the newest iPhone.

"When the new iPhone comes out, there will be two image sensors from OmniVision," Lazard Capital Markets' Amir told TheStreet.

The company refused to confirm. "OmniVision is not allowed to disclose such information," a spokesman said in an email to TheStreet.

OmniVision's stock has risen almost 140% in the last 12 months. Set against this backdrop, the company is getting plenty of analyst love.

"Our guys are positive on that company ," said Broadpoint's Marshall. "I think that they are one of the few games in town to offer that technology from an image sensor perspective, so that's potentially interesting."

-- Reported by James Rogers in New York

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