OmniVision Just Became a Screaming Buy


Want to play truth or dare, Omnivision Technologies (NAS: OVTI) ?

Shares of the camera-chip maker fell more than 30% overnight, and the stock hasn't been priced this low since spring 2010. The company just reported first-quarter results, and there must be something deeply wrong with the numbers to trigger a whipping of that magnitude. Right?

The first quarter itself was just fine: $0.76 of non-GAAP earnings per share on revenue of $276 million was roughly in line if not better than Street estimates, as well as far above the year-ago period. Earnings nearly doubled and sales rose by 43%.

The panic attack rests on OmniVision's guidance for the next quarter. In a seasonally strong period leading into the all-important holiday season, the midpoint of management's sales guidance would mean just 11% sales growth from the year-ago period. Analysts were quick to jump to the conclusion that top customer Apple (NAS: AAPL) must be sourcing iPhone 5 camera chips from Sony (NYS: SNE) and others, displacing at least a part of OmniVision's main revenue source.

That's where the truth-or-dare challenge comes in, because it would make liars out of OmniVision's management.

On the traditional analyst call, worldwide sales VP Ray Cisneros fielded plenty of guidance questions from shocked and outraged analysts, and his message was consistent: This "cautious" guidance is all about macroeconomics and PC sales, and not at all a smartphone story.

A new 8-megapixel chip based on a second generation of backside illumination technology for high-end smartphones won't go into mass production until the end of the quarter, which dovetails menacingly with rumors that the iPhone 5 will ship with exactly that camera resolution.

But that doesn't lead to the inexorable conclusion that OmniVision is losing the Apple account. For one, the company already has advanced 8-mp chips on the market -- the replacement is thinner and packed with new features, but OmniVision has a big foot in this door. Also, if the new product really was intended for the iPhone 5, you'd expect a far larger revenue pullback as Sony, STMicroelectronics (NYS: STM) and perhaps Panasonic (NYS: PC) step in to fill the void.

So this looks like another sky-is-falling panic, the kind that happens to OmniVision and Cirrus Logic (NAS: CRUS) every time there's a hint of Apple turning elsewhere for their iPhone components. This particular seller stampede is based on pure speculation, and on assuming that OmniVision is lying to analysts and investors.

Smartphones outsell PCs nowadays, and their projected growth rate in the coming years looks staggering. OmniVision is one way to ride that trend, and a mouthwatering one at these unreasonably panic-tainted prices. In our free report "5 Stocks The Motley Fool Owns -- And You Should Too," we highlight another mobile leader that our analyst believes is one of the strongest ways to profit in smartphone growth in China and beyond. To get a copy of the report, just click here now -- it's free!

At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Cirrus Logic.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. You can check outAnders' holdings and a concise bio, follow him onTwitterorGoogle+, or peruseour Foolish disclosure policy.

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