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Here's What It Might Take for an InvenSense Turnarournd


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It's no secret that InvenSense (NYSE: INVN) hasn't exactly been the darling of investors as of late. The company's stock price is down 53% over the past 12 months. And the company's revenues plummeted 20% year over year in fiscal Q4 2016.

InvenSense has suffered from its dependence on selling micro electrical mechanical systems (MEMS) -- typically gyroscope motion sensors -- to Samsung and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL). And InvenSense has suffered as both smartphone makers have had trouble selling devices recently. 

Still, InvenSense isn't completely washed up, and there are at least two things that could put it back on track. Let's run through what might help InvenSense get its footing again.

InvenSense finally realizes its IoT potential 

InvenSense has made some huge gains in shifting its focus from mobile to the Internet of Things (IoT) -- and revenue has followed. 

On the company's Q4 earnings call, CEO Behrooz Abdi said:

We more than doubled our IoT and other revenue in fiscal 2016 with market-leading solutions for key emerging platforms such as drones, virtual and augmented reality, wearables, automotive and a variety of smart home, enterprise, and industrial applications.

The revenue increase in InvenSense's "other" segment increased from 21% of total revenue in Q3 to 32% in Q4. That increase is a welcomed change as the company attempts to move away from its mobile dependence.

But it'll take more of the same for InvenSense to see a huge change in the company's revenue diversification. Apple and Samsung still made up about 56% of the company's total revenue in fiscal 2016.

Still, the Internet of Things holds massive opportunity for the company. The entire IoT market size is estimated to be worth $7.1 trillion by 2020. And Grandview Research projects the MEMS market to reach $26 billion by 2022. If InvenSense can continue expanding its IoT revenue quickly, investors might still be able to see the company turnaround.

Blowout iPhone sales

It's critical InvenSense move away from its dependence on Apple (and the quicker the better). But as it does that, strong iPhone sales could still help InvenSense. When Apple reported its first-ever year-over-year iPhone sale decline last quarter, InvenSense suffered along with it.

The iPhone maker accounts for about 40% of InvenSense's total revenue in fiscal 2016. There's no way InvenSense will simply drop Apple as a customer (though Apple could certainly drop InvenSense), so it's best for InvenSense if Apple's devices are flying off the shelves. 

Of course, this doesn't mean InvenSense should just hunker down and bet the farm on what Apple's doing. It needs to grow other revenue sources. But as it does, strong iPhone sales could help the company earn the revenue it needs to make investments in other businesses. 

This is going to be a tough one for Apple to pull off, though. KGI securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has put the worst-case scenario for iPhone shipments at just 190 million (that would be lower than the company's 2014 iPhone sales).

At least one estimate is betting on Apple, though. BMO Capital Markets analyst Tim Long says historical iPhone upgrade cycles indicate that this year's device will surpass previous upgrades, and that 120 million devices fall within the normal upgrade timelines for Apple iPhone users.

Additionally, Wells Fargo analyst Maynard Um recently said Apple is asking its suppliers to produce 72 million to 78 million new iPhones for 2016. If true, that would the highest production of iPhone units for Apple in the past two years.  

These are all guesses, of course. But InvenSense might see some of its mobile revenues rise (and then use them to continue making its mobile exit) if Apple pulls off an unexpected iPhone win.

Investor takeaway

I have to be honest, here: I don't think InvenSense's turnaround is going to happen any time soon. Selling components to mobile players is still the company's biggest moneymaker and it'll take a while for that to change. And even if InvenSense goes all-in with the IoT, there's still no guaranteed success in the market. 

Additionally, InvenSense has been an Apple supplier during the iPhone boom times and has still seen its stock price crumble. Huge demand for the next iteration of the device (or even the one after that) might not be enough to put InvenSense's revenue or stock price back on track. Remember that Apple's been able to put pricing pressure on InvenSense for quite a while because of its large percentage of business. And this could weigh down InvenSense's margins even if the next iPhone is successful. 

So, while it's possible the above two scenarios could help InvenSense get back on track, I think the company is still too big of a risk for investors.

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Chris Neiger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple, InvenSense, and Wells Fargo. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2018 $90 calls on Apple and short January 2018 $95 calls on Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.