Imagination likely to see Apple royalties slashed, then end: UBS

FILE PHOTO: The Apple logo is pictured inside the newly opened Omotesando Apple store at a shopping district in Tokyo June 26, 2014. REUTERS/Yuya Shino/File Photo

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Apple Inc is likely to pay graphics chip designer Imagination Technologies just one third of its current royalty rate as the smartphone giant wind downs their supply deal over the next two years, UBS estimated on Wednesday.

UBS analysts predicted that Imagination would become loss-making by fiscal 2019 without any Apple royalty contributions and that the British chip designer will have to consider potential cost-cutting moves to redress the balance.

Earlier this month, the British designer of graphical processing units used in smartphones said its largest customer would stop using its technology within 15 to 24 months, causing the stock to lose nearly two thirds of its value in a single day.

The move sent shudders through Apple’s supply chain and has sparked investor jitters over whether Apple may rely more on its own in-house chip technology rather than external suppliers.

Imagination is in talks with Apple on a new licensing deal. UBS forecasts Apple is likely to ratchet down the royalty rate it currently pays of around $0.30 to closer to $0.10 - the rate Imagination charges customers such as MediaTek.

Valuing London-listed Imagination using discounted cash flows, UBS analysts estimated its Apple business is worth 75 pence, while, without Apple, the stock is worth just 35 pence. That totals 110 pence, using a sum-of-the-parts valuation.

The stock currently trades at 103.19 pence.

Apple, the world’s most valuable company, commands a market capitalization of $741 billion that is around 2,000 times greater than Imagination’s 288 million pounds ($370 million).

Reporting By Eric Auchard; Editing by Maria Sheahan