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Why Finisar Shares Are Soaring Today

Evan Niu, CFA, The Motley Fool

What happened

Shares of Finisar (NASDAQ: FNSR) have soared today, up by 30% as of 12 p.m. EST, after the company scored a $390 million investment from Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL). The investment was awarded from the $1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Fund that Apple set up in May of this year, which is dedicated to supporting innovation and job creation domestically. Apple previously awarded $200 million to another supplier, Corning, out of the fund.

So what

The money will help Finisar boost its research and development spending and ramp production of vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs), the sensors that are a critical piece of the new 3D-sensing TrueDepth camera system in iPhone X. Considering the iPhone X's expected volumes, Apple is now a huge purchaser of VCSEL arrays.

An assembly tool shining a red light on the Finisar manufacturing floor

An assembly tool on the Finisar manufacturing floor. Image source: Apple.

"In the fourth quarter of 2017, Apple will purchase 10 times more VCSEL wafers than were previously manufactured worldwide over a similar time period," according to the Mac maker.

Now what

Finisar is in the process of acquiring a new facility in Sherman, Texas, to expand its manufacturing capacity, and the Apple award will help cover the costs. On its earnings call earlier this month, Finisar said the facility was acquired for $20 million, and the project will create 500 high-skill jobs. All of the VCSELs that Apple purchases from Finisar will be made in Texas, including at another nearby facility in Allen, Texas. Apple is also helping secure renewable energy to power the new facility.

"VCSELs power some of the most sophisticated technology we've ever developed and we're thrilled to partner with Finisar over the next several years to push the boundaries of VCSEL technology and the applications they enable," Apple COO Jeff Williams said in a statement.

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Evan Niu, CFA owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool recommends GLW. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.