Synaptics' CEO Touches on Its Biggest Opportunities for Growth


Synaptics' acquisition of Validity Sensors was a key point of interest during the company's second-quarter earnings call. The company sees the business as a huge opportunity going forward, and it gives Synaptics a competitive advantage over its competition like Cypress Semiconductor as they compete for design wins in products like Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S5. Fingerprint scanners are expected to get a boost after Apple included its Touch ID technology in the latest iPhone.

Synaptics CEO Richard Bergman was not shy about reminding listeners that the company is still focused on growth and sees multiple opportunities outside of Validity. Here are a few important quotes from the conference call.

Scanning the fingerprint horizon
Bergman reiterated the huge opportunity in fingerprint scanning that he presented at CES earlier this month.

While it's difficult to gauge the full extent to the opportunity, we currently see the market growing from 30 million units last year to over 0.5 billion in just two years.

That third-party estimate may be on the conservative side, although it does exclude Apple products. Fingerprint Cards AB, a Swedish biometric component maker, believes the market for fingerprint scanners could grow as large as 1 billion units by next year.

In any case, the trend is strong, and it's widely expected that Samsung will include a fingerprint scanner in its upcoming Galaxy S5. An analyst at Feltl upgraded Synaptics stock with the expectation that Synaptics won the design for a fingerprint scanner in the upcoming flagship phone from Samsung.

Synaptics expects the Validity acquisition to become accretive more quickly than originally anticipated and added, "we're having a tough time dealing with all the opportunities."

Source: Synaptics

Mobile commerce potential
A key part of the growth in biometrics is the push for mobile payment platforms, which require increased security in order to aid adoption. Bergman pointed out on the conference call:

As a founding member of the FIDO Alliance, we are also helping to shape the standards for e-commerce authorization through fingerprint-based user identification, which will serve to simply the user experience and drive adoption.

Apple is reportedly pushing deeper into mobile payments, leveraging its vast stockpile of credit card information from iTunes, as well as the new Touch ID sensor on the iPhone 5s. A move by Apple could add some serious steam to the mobile-payment, or m-commerce, trend and further increase the demand for fingerprint scanners.

Synaptics -- through Validity -- is in a good position to capitalize on that as a member of the FIDO Alliance, a group dedicated to improving authentication for payments across multiple platforms. Other key members include Google, PayPal, and MasterCard.

Opportunity on the low end
Synaptics has done well to get its ClearPad touchscreen products into high- and mid-end devices, but its low-end offering is lacking. Management didn't shy away from this, and sees the rapidly growing low end as an opportunity for the company.

We still have work to do for the lower end of the market. It does takes specific teams and solutions to get down to ... some of the cost points there. But that's the opportunity for us.

Competitor Cypress Semiconductor is aggressively attacking the low end. Management has focused on bringing its costs down to compete with Chinese manufacturers, and is far ahead of Synaptics in low-end products.

Still, with the growth in the low-end market, Synaptics does have opportunity, and it expects to capitalize on it as early as next quarter. The company has partnerships with some big-name Chinese manufacturers including Lenovo, Huawei, ZTE, and Coolpad that will help it penetrate the low end of the market.

Still growing
Synaptics has a big opportunity with the Validity acquisition, but Bergman noted that the company is pursuing growth across all of its businesses. Even after a fantastic calendar 2013, Synaptics has opportunities across all of its segments to continue growing revenue in 2014. As Bergman said on the conference call, "the top priority for us is still growth."

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