Merriman Curhan Ford Initiates Coverage on the Communications/Wireless
SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 2
SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 2 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Merriman Curhan Ford (Nasdaq:
MERR) today announced that it has initiated coverage on the Communications:
Wireless Technology sector under equity research analyst Scott Searle, CFA.
Searle's research thesis includes company coverage of Alvarion Ltd. (ALVR),
Aviat Networks, Inc. (AVNW), Brightpoint Inc. (CELL), Cogo Group, Inc. (COGO),
RF Micro Devices, Inc. (RFMD), Smith Micro Software, Inc. (SMSI) and TriQuint
Semiconductor, Inc. (TQNT) with Buy ratings and Palm, Inc. (PALM), Ceragon
Networks, Ltd. (CRNT), DragonWave Inc. (DRWI) and PowerWave Technologies Inc.
(PWAV) with Neutral ratings.
Searle highlighted these themes in his company initiation reports:
*Alvarion Ltd. (NASDAQ:ALVR $4.06; Buy)
Historically overhyped and often confused as a 4G competitor to LTE, WiMAX is
a real and commercially ready broadband wireless solution that supports
speeds of up to 40Mbps (going to 300Mbps). Despite the global credit freeze
and ensuing recession, WiMAX has over 500 deployments in 147 countries.
Alvarion is the leading independent supplier (with 20% market share) of this
largely rationalizing multibillion dollar market opportunity. Although
near-term visibility remains cloudy, we believe this is currently reflected
in the stock. With $2.00 per share in net cash and EPS potential of
$0.30-0.40 in CY11 we believe investors will revisit the shares driven by 1)
a thawing of credit markets, 2) successful licensing in key markets (i.e.
India), 3) U.S. broadband stimulus funds and 4) the emergence of new
verticals. We are initiating coverage at Buy and see upside to $7-8, or 18x
2011 EPS plus net cash per share.
*Aviat Networks, Inc. (NASDAQ:AVNW $7.19; Buy)
Although Aviat Networks has underperformed market indexes and its direct
backhaul comps, the company remains extremely well positioned to benefit from
exploding growth in mobile data traffic. Simply stated, the transition to
3G/4G and the adoption of smart phones is choking networks. Mobile backhaul
is an immediate and sustained beneficiary of this trend. Customer specific
issues have largely subsided and we believe customer activity is increasing.
In our opinion, we believe the company has the right products, product
roadmap, scale and complete end to end solution to achieve success. We
believe that despite the cloudy visibility that the underperformance of
shares will soon reverse and see upside to the $10-12 level as the valuation
gap narrows with its competitors.
*Brightpoint Inc. (NASDAQ:CELL $5.84; Buy)
Brightpoint is the leading supplier of distribution and logistics services to
handsets and other wireless devices with global and North American market
share at approximately 7% and over 30%, respectively. Thus Brightpoint is a
broad based means to participate in the recovery of global handset sales in
2010 (10% vs. 7-8% decline in 2009). More importantly, Brightpoint is an OEM
agnostic way to participate in the Smart Phone market which is expected to
grow over 30% in 2010 and beyond. In addition to higher ASPs, the market
migration to smart phones provides the opportunity for more value added and
higher margined logistics services. Importantly, while the company has been
steadily improving gross margins since mid 2007 it has paid down over $350M
in debt. The recent earnings bump has created a buying opportunity. We see
upside to $8-10, or 12-15 times CY11 EPS estimates.
*Ceragon Networks, Ltd. (NASDAQ:CRNT $11.79; Neutral)
Ceragon Networks is a leading independent supplier of high capacity microwave
radio solutions for mobile backhaul applications. The company offers a
combination of IP and TDM based products which offer a flexible network
architecture to its customers. The company has faired fairly well in the
current economic climate with top line results off less than 25% from 2008
peak levels. This is impressive given its relative high exposure to markets
such as India. Long-term, the growth outlook appears healthy driven by
incremental network capacity demands from mobile data and next generation (3G
and 4G) networks. However, limited near-term visibility combined with the
over 70% stock price appreciation since the mid-summer dampens our
enthusiasm. We would wait for a better entry point or an acceleration in end
markets and are initiating coverage at Neutral.
*Cogo Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:COGO $6.36; Buy)
Cogo Group, Inc. is often over simplified as a China handset and 3G play.
While trends in these markets will certainly impact sentiment, COGO is much
more diverse with over 60% of its revenue coming from non-wireless markets.
One of the notable non-wireless segments is Industrial (AMR, smart grid,
railway, auto, etc) which comprises 14% of revenue, up from near 0% in 2007.
Going forward we see growth in Industrial (aided by the $600B stimulus plan),
SME, new products (mobile TV, sensors, etc.), export opportunities in
wireless devices and potentially new IC partners. With a favorable gross
margin mix, operating leverage, $2.84 per share in net cash, and a cash
adjusted P/E of less than 6 times 2010 EPS, shares of COGO remain attractive
with an upside of $10-12.
*DragonWave Inc. (NASDAQ:DRWI $11.19; Neutral)
DragonWave, Inc is a leading supplier of Ethernet based radios to IP
networks. The company has done a phenomenal job of correctly anticipating and
servicing the trend of IP backhaul in next generation networks, particularly
WiMAX. DragonWave has posted over 200% growth on the back of marquee customer
Clearwire's nationwide buildout. However, the company's success has become
its intermediate-term risk as Clearwire is an 82% customer. While the company
actively pursues customer diversification, we believe large U.S. operators
will take time to make backhaul decisions. Furthermore it remains unclear to
us how existing mobile operators will approach backhaul for its LTE rollouts,
all IP or hybrid TDM/IP. We would look to become more constructive on the
stock with better visibility to customer diversification or a pullback in
*Palm, Inc. (NASDAQ:PALM $10.39; Neutral)
Palm has pioneered the mobile device and the smart phone. Its latest
iteration with the Pre and Pixi, based on its robust and critically lauded
WebOS, has truly revitalized the company. While the opportunity exists to
replicate the iPhone's market success and profitability, pitfalls remain.
Yes, the smart phone market is exploding with projected 30% growth for the
next several years, and yes, non-traditional suppliers (Apple, Palm, RIM,
etc.) are garnering bigger chunks of market share. However, incremental
distribution (more carriers) and, importantly, more applications (more than
1,600 at present) will be required to achieve success. We estimate breakeven
at approximately 1.4M units and EPS power of $1.00 at approximately 3M units
per quarter (vs. a recent 800k). We expect a rapidly expanding operator base,
but remain on the sidelines until visibility to carrier adoption improves.
*PowerWave Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ:PWAV $1.37; Neutral)
PowerWave Technologies is well positioned to benefit from the capacity
additions required by next generation wireless networks, i.e. 3G, LTE and
WiMAX. As a fully functional mobile data ecosystem (networks, devices and
applications) continues to drive dramatic increases in network traffic (up
over 100% per year) operators will be required to invest in incremental
network capacity. Regardless if it is on existing or next generation
networks, PowerWave stands to benefit. However, visibility remains limited
given seasonality and the infrastructure struggles of two key OEMs, Nokia and
Alcatel-Lucent (roughly 1/3 of revenue). Longer-term, we believe new products
(remote radio heads), new verticals (government) and a modest market recovery
can drive EPS approaching $0.20. We await better visibility and are
initiating coverage with a Neutral rating.
*RF Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ:RFMD $3.85; Buy)
RF Micro Devices has historically fought the perception that the mobile
device market will slow, competition and integration will increase, and gross
margins will remain under pressure, in perpetuity. The reality is the
traditional device market has slowed, but new opportunities for connectivity
(PC Cards, M2M, WiMAX, WLAN, etc) are increasing. More importantly, device
complexity is driving incremental dollar content per phone ($3-4 vs. $1-2).
Additionally, integration of the RF front end is unlikely to happen, however,
complexity within the front end itself (i.e. support of multiple bands) is
likely enabling RF Micro Devices to distance itself from the competition.
With further upside in gross and operating margins, an improving balance
sheet, strong free cash flow, and a modest multiple of approximately 8x FY11
EPS, we believe the shares have upside to the $7-8 range.
*Smith Micro Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:SMSI $7.75; Buy)
Smith Micro is a leading supplier of software solutions that manage adaptive
mobile connectivity and personal digital content for enterprise, consumer and
operator customers. Its flagship, Quicklink Mobile, manages and optimizes
connectivity of mobile devices such as notebooks, netbooks and other emerging
form factors onto wireless networks. Consequently, the company is extremely
well positioned for the huge ramp of mobile devices that is projected to
drive 40% CAGR in the wireless PC modem market. Smith Micro services seven of
the top 10 north American carriers and two of the top three PC OEMs. With
limited competition (Smith Micro acquired its closest competitor), attractive
financials and a reasonable valuation (less than 10 times 2011 EPS), Smith
Micro is an attractive play on the growth in mobile devices. We see upside to
the $13-16 level and initiate coverage with a Buy rating.
*TriQuint Semiconductor, Inc. (NASDAQ:TQNT $6.00; Buy)
TriQuint, a leading supplier of high performance RF semiconductors, is well
positioned to take advantage of the trends in units and increasing dollar
content presented by 3G/4G and the proliferation of smart phones and other
mobile devices. More so than any other RF IC vendor, we believe TriQuint is
leveraged to the high growth (30%) smart phone market (approximately 35% of
revenue) with key customers Apple (primary supplier) and RIM (where TriQuint
is gaining share). Additionally, a recovery in the networking group will aid
results with growth in cable, new power devices, optical and microwave
backhaul. With expanding margins, a clean balance sheet and smart phone
momentum, shares remain attractive trading at 10x CY10. We are initiating
coverage at Buy with a price target of $9-10.
Scott Searle has more than 17 years of experience covering communications and
technology companies. Throughout his equity research career, Searle has
specialized in covering small and mid-cap technology companies at S Squared
Technology, SG Cowen, Dain Rauscher Wessels and UBS. While at SG Cowen, Searle
was named as a fast-rising analyst in investor polls for covering
communications equipment, with a specialization in wireless technology.
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