As Apple AAPL debates its automotive strategy, Samsung Electronics (SSNLF) moved quickly into the fast lane of in-car technologies with its $8 billion play for Harman International Industries (HAR) , a move that not only boosts to its top line but also provides greater access to the world's largest automakers including Fiat Chrysler (FCAU) and Ford (F) .
Samsung's $8 billion bid for Harman follows a string of embarrassments for the Suwon, South Korea-based firm, including the withdrawal of its flammable flagship Galaxy Note 7. But it also comes just less than a month after Apple announced it was significantly scaling back on its automotive project and will no longer try to build its own fully-fledged self-driving car.
This means that rather than taking Tesla (TSLA) and other automakers head on, Apple will now focus on creating an autonomous driving system and partner with the existing car makers.
Apple's car initiative, code-named Project Titan, was launched in 2014 under the instruction of CEO Tim Cook and led to the tech giant hiring over 1,000 engineers from the auto industry. Since then, however, its project leader and former Ford engineer Steve Zadesky has left and so have hundreds of other hardware and software engineers.
Samsung's Monday announcement may ignite another sort of fire -- the fight for speed by Apple, Alphabet (GOOGL) and other rivals participating in the automotive electronics market, which Samsung estimates will expand to $100 billion by 2025. The South Korean maker, which only established its automotive electronics team in December 2015, has certainly been nimble in this respect.
In an analysis of the deal for our premium site Real Money, Jim Cramer wrote: "I wanted Apple to so much get away from being levered to the phone. I guess Samsung's electronics business wanted to do the same. And now it has." (To read Cramer's full take on the acquisition, click here.)
But Samsung's purchase not only steals a march on its Apple rival, it should also lift its top and bottom lines.
By making the Stamford, Connecticut-based Harman a wholly-owned subsidiary, Samsung will enjoy instant boosts of about 4% to sales and nearly 3% to operating profit. In the year ended June 30, Harman reported record sales and operating profit of $6.91 billion and $580 million, compared with Samsung's 200.65 trillion won ($170 billion) and 26.41 trillion won, respectively.
But more importantly, Samsung will extend its reach to Harman's customers, the top five of which include: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, BMW, Volkwagen (VLKAY) Ford, and Yamaha (YAMCY) , according to FactSet. Fiat Chrysler represents about 15% of the company's sales, while BMW and Volkswagen represent 13% and 12%, respectively.
Samsung, which says is pursuing a long-term growth strategy in automotive electronics, said it plans to retain Harman's talent, headquarters, and facilities, as well as all of its consumer and professional brands such as JBL, Harman Kardon, and Mark Levinson.
Of the $7 billion of Harman's sales, 65% is automotive-related, according to today's release. Samsung appears clear in its strategy of combining its own connectivity technology with Harman's infotainment, cyber security, and telematics technology.
As an icing on the cake, Samsung will also gain access to Harman's 8,000 software designers and engineers focused on the Internet of Things market.
(Apple and Alphabet are held in Jim Cramer's charitable trust Action Alerts PLUS. See all of his holdings here.)