Is OmniVision Back in Cupertino's Good Graces?

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This just in: Maybe Apple (NAS: AAPL) doesn't hateOmniVision Technologies (NAS: OVTI) after all.

Analyst firm Robert W. Baird believes that the camera-chip specialist is back in Apple's good graces. When the iPad 3 is unveiled on Wednesday, Baird expects OmniVision cameras front and back. If Apple introduces a smaller, seven-inch version of the popular tablet as well, Baird thinks OmniVision would sweep that contract, too.

If that rosy outlook weren't enough, Baird even expects the company to make a comeback in the next iPhone as a second supplier to fresh incumbentSony (NYS: SNE) .

OmniVision shares jumped as much as 8.7% on the bullish note, which came complete with a "buy" upgrade and a $23 price target. For the record, Baird's target price is 45% above last night's closing price.

The upgrade aligns Baird with recent OmniVision bull, Canaccord Genuity, which sees an opportunity to "recapture market share in the smartphone segment" with a $20 target. But, not every analyst sings OmniVision's praises: Lazard Capital sees "no further upside" to OmniVision's Apple business in 2012 and thinks the stock is fairly valued already.

OmniVision investors have learned to fear Baird already. The firm was among the first to suggest that Sony had won the main camera spot in the iPhone 4S (by any other name). These guys have proved their mettle in this very specific field, and I wouldn't be surprised if Baird nailed this call too. I wrote that old warning off as unrealistic, but was proven wrong when the iPhone finally showed up.

I'd certainly like it if Baird were right -- I'm still an OmniVision shareholder after all. But the proof-packed pudding won't be served until independent firms rip the new tablet apart to inspect the chips with microscopes and x-ray scanners. In the meantime, OmniVision is still cheap as long as the wheels don't fall off the growth wagon entirely. Add the stock to your Foolish watchlist and read up on some other chips we'll likely see again in the next iPad.

At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares of OmniVision but holds no other position in any of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinion, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Check out Anders' holdings and bio, or follow him on Twitter and Google+. We have a disclosure policy.

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