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Is Apple's Latest Corning Funding Related to Foldable Glass?

Zacks Equity Research

Apple AAPL recently announced that it will be investing another $250 million from its Advanced Manufacturing Fund in Corning GLW to support innovation and expand manufacturing capabilities. Including a $200-million investment in 2017, the iPhone-maker has poured in a total of $450 million in the Gorilla Glass-maker.

Corning’s precision glasses have featured in every generation of iPhones, including the upcoming iPhone 11 and iPhone Pro 11. Per Apple “The newest iPhone models feature the toughest glass ever in a smartphone, as well as a back machined from a single piece of glass that allows for wireless charging.”

Foldable Phones Set to Drive Glass Innovation

Innovation race in the glass manufacturing space has been gathering steam, owing to the upcoming foldable phones from notable smartphone makers like Samsung (Galaxy Fold launched on Sep 6), Huawei (Mate X) and Lenovo (Motorola Razr).

Reportedly, Samsung is testing ultra-thin bendable glass for the inner display of its next foldable smartphone. Per a Bloomberg report, the South Korea-based smartphone maker is working on two new foldable smartphones — one being a clamshell-like device and the other an outward folding device. Notably, the Galaxy Fold folds inward like a notebook.

Per The Verge, Corning has also been working on a bendable version of Gorilla Glass. The company has been targeting a “3- to 5-millimeter bend radii” for its 0.1 mm thick glass. This will make a foldable phone as thin as 6-10 mm, with the folding screen wrapped around the outside.
 

Apple Inc. Price and Consensus

Apple Inc. Price and Consensus

Apple Inc. price-consensus-chart | Apple Inc. Quote

 

Apple’s latest investment in Corning is likely to target the foldable glass space. Although the iPhone-maker is yet to show any interest in foldable phones, it has a patent for flexible displays.

Apple has also been rumored to work with its Asian partners for a foldable phone.

Apple’s Investment in U.S. Manufacturing Growing

Meanwhile, Apple’s investment in Corning also reflects its focus on strengthening the supplier base in the United States. Notably, the company has spent more than $60 billion on its 9000 American suppliers in 2018. The company provided 450,000 jobs across all 50 states and manufacturing locations in 36 states.

Overall, Apple has invested more than $1 billion from the Advanced Manufacturing Fund in American companies. In fact, it has invested 20% of the $5 billion it had subsequently committed to spend.

Apart from Corning, the company’s notable investments from the fund include $300 million in Finisar FNSR, which provides technologies for Apple’s Face ID, Animoji and Portrait-mode selfies.

Zacks Rank & A Key Pick

Apple currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

3D Systems DDD, with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), is a stock worth considering in the same industry. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Long-term earnings growth rate for 3D Systems is currently pegged at 23%.

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3D Systems Corporation (DDD) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Apple Inc. (AAPL) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Corning Incorporated (GLW) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Finisar Corporation (FNSR) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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