“Secret Defense Department Technology Crosses Over”

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, July 10, 2007

This one has already been solved several times over at the forum, but I thought I’d write it up here for those of you who don’t like to keep up with all those discussions.

The latest teaser for this company comes in from Andrew Mickey at Breakaway Investor — though it appears that various other Taipan letters have been pushing this one for at least several months. Maybe that’s why Breakaway Investor is having a fire sale at the moment, just $49 for a year — I assume it’s cheaper to rehash stale ideas than to come up with your own new ones.

But, being stale doesn’t mean it’s no good for us. So … what are we dealing with here?

Mickey talks about this as the next cell phone, next computer and next cable TV in terms of the potential long term growth. They’re predicting that a billion cell phones will ship with this technology, and that this company will continue to dominate the niche.

The big deal is a version of GPS technology (initially a defense dept. innovation) for cell phones — and since we all know that there are more than a billion cell phones sold every year now, that’s obviously a huge market.

He notes that the use of cell towers (instead of just satellites) will enable the real expansion of GPS, since he says GPS is now limited by the small number of transponders on the satellites (96,000, according to him — I have no idea whether or not this is true, there are obviously many more GPS-enabled devices than that in the world already).

He also compares this technology to the camera phone — which many people, including me, thought was an idiotic idea.

They dominate this narrow niche, and they supply nearly all the handset manufacturers.

So … what clues were provided for this GPS in cell phones/using cell towers company?

It’s a semiconductor firm, pretty clearly — they make the chipsets for this technology.

They went … “From $15 Million in Revenue to a Stunning $247 Million in Just Six Years”

“With a 60% market share that’s growing 50 -100% a year, you know that management has wisely targeted the right fields. Can you think of any faster-growing markets in the world than these fields?”

And the final clue — some specific data about patents:

“Thinking way ahead, this remarkable company is wisely protected by a small Army of patents. Specifically, as of December 31, 2006, it had 193 patents granted worldwide with 152 patents granted in the U nited S tates and 41 in foreign countries.”

Well, I can’t take credit for sleuthing this one out, but several folks in the forum have gone through all the clues and concluded that this company is definitely ..

Sirf Technologies (SIRF)

And it’s pretty clear that they’re right. It’s less clear that this is a winner, of course.

This is an interesting company, and it is certainly the right part of the trend for GPS-related stocks (I’ve seen others teased and recommended a lot lately, including Garmin). But do keep in mind that Taipan folks have been recommending this one since it was up in the high 20s earlier this year (at least), and it’s at just about $21 right now.

And while they do have a strong market share in the chips for this version of location technology for cell phones and similar devices, they are far from being the only company in the market. Broadcom, for one, has a similar product, and I’m sure Texas Instruments and the other biggies do as well, or are working on similar products. As one poster on the forum, mgpf, noted, the barriers to entry might not be as significant as Mickey implies.

So … will they keep the lead in market share for what I do agree is going to be a big market? That’s a pretty big question. If you’ve got the answer, let us know — there are a bunch of analysts on this one, and they’re guessing at a forward PE of 16, so if it is going to grow as touted that’s not bad at all. If it’s not going to grow like that, the trailing PE in the 70s looks a lot less impressive.

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8 Comments on "“Secret Defense Department Technology Crosses Over”"

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Mike
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Mike
July 11, 2007 3:56 pm

GPS technology in cell phones has been available in Japan for some time. However, it isn’t very popular there, despite Japanese people’s love of gadgets. In Japan, navigating city streets can be quite a challenge, since most cities are full of narrow, winding streets that have no names. If GPS cell phones are not so popular there, how popular are they going to be in other parts of the world that are easier to navigate?

Anonymous
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Anonymous
July 11, 2007 7:42 pm

coincidently I saw an add for a GPS phone yesterday for the first time. I am really not a leader in tech, didn’t know it existed, just now got a phone with camera (it came with it, didn’t care for..) but for my purpose, since I travel a lot on business, I found it a very good idea…, and I want one. For the stock itself, no opinion, except these stories are typically very short-lived

Anonymous
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Anonymous
July 15, 2007 4:33 pm

GPS has a great future, there is no doubt about it! Whether it is in cars or in cell phones, the technology cannot but grow by leaps and bounds. Who needs printed maps any longer when you can google maps free over the internet and work your way around with a GPS unit in your pocket ? This technology will become as ubiquitous as digital photography!

todd shriber
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todd shriber
August 24, 2007 11:46 am

In general, does anyone recommend any of Taipan’s subscription services? They make some pretty audacious claims. Are they legit at all? Thanks – Todd Shriber

Privacy-Rights-Act.com
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Privacy-Rights-Act.com
September 29, 2007 5:13 pm

Interesting,

Lets face it, the cell phone will become our mainstay in communications, so why not use it for more than just talking. I am amazed at what cell phones have become, camera, video, music, GPS, navigation, memo recorders, and now, a replacement for credit charge cards.

The list of advanced features are endless, but most are simply toys in comparison to turning your cell phone into a secured credit platform for charging products and services with a push of button, so now we are getting somewhere with useful new uses for our cell phones.

http://www.MobileCellCash.com

Chick Goetz
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Chick Goetz
February 2, 2008 8:25 pm

Do you know what the Public Traded Partnerships are? Are they the same companies as the KT- 1 companies?

Rich
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Rich
July 25, 2008 5:37 pm

SIRF 34 to 3 since the tout.
No wonder Warren Buffett eschews tech co’s.

Mike
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November 21, 2009 3:13 pm
Update: My goodness, isn’t technology amazing since original post a couple years ago regarding GPS. lol Now we have seen wireless taken to the next level, in fact, several new levels. GPS mapping applications are now exploding and common place, especially with Google getting into the wireless industry hooking up with Verizon. Now Cellular Over Internet Protocol or COIP is exploding just like VOIP has for landlines. Now you can access local dial tone on any cell phone, no need for smart phones which were trying to capitalize on VOIP over wireless like T-Mobile and AT&T are. Now, COIP is… Read more »
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