Are Tablet Accessory Companies a Good Investment? – Zagg Inc (ZAGG), Apple Inc (AAPL), Nokia Corporation (ADR) (NOK)

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ZAGG Inc. (NASDAQ:ZAGG), the company that made a name for itself making clear coverings for mobile devices like the invisibleSHIELD, saw net sales skyrocket 30% in the fourth quarter.

Much of ZAGG Inc. (NASDAQ:ZAGG)’s success continues to depend upon the growth of the mobile computing industry. The company’s products are made to accompany mobile computing devices, such as tablets and smartphones.

Does ZAGG Inc. (NASDAQ:ZAGG)’s success mirror the success of the mobile computing or smartphone industries?

Zagg Inc (NASDAQ:ZAGG)While tablet shipments increased 74%, ZAGG Inc. (NASDAQ:ZAGG)’s gross profit increased 47% percent over the year previous. Net sales for the full year 2012 increased 48% to $264.4 million from $179.1 million in the previous year. Gross profit increased 47% percent over the year previous. ZAGG Inc. (NASDAQ:ZAGG) did well, but the tablet industry did better.

Worldwide tablet shipments reached a record 52.5 million units worldwide in Q4 2012, according to preliminary data from IDC. The tablet market grew 75% year over year in 4Q12 (up from 29.9 million units in 4Q11) and increased 74% from the previous quarter’s total of 30 million units. (The record-breaking quarter for tablet sales is also notable compared to the declining PC market, which saw shipments drop for the first time in more than five years during the quarter.)

The mobile computing industry has seen phenomenal growth in recent years. While companies such as Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung are the movers behind the mobile computing industry growth, the accessories market that improves and enhances the mobile experience have enjoyed the ride on their coattails. The iPad continues to lead the tablet market in sales, with shipments totaling 22.9 million units, an increase of 48%. The significant increase is reflected in sales at ZAGG Inc. (NASDAQ:ZAGG). IPad keyboard sales, a new ZAGG Inc. (NASDAQ:ZAGG) offering, increased 164%, representing 28% of net sales. (The highest-margin product line, the invisibleSHIELD, sales represented 43% of net sales.)

Samsung experienced 263% year-on-year growth, shipping nearly 8 million combined Android and Windows 8 tablets during the quarter for a 15% market share, the same as the year previous.

ZAGG and other accessory companies also depend on the success of the mobile phone and smartphone markets. According to a new report by Gartner, overall mobile phone sales were down 3%, but smartphone sales were up 47% year over year. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has sold over 23.5 million iPhones. According to Gartner, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung collectively accounted for 46.5% of smartphone sales worldwide. Samsung accounted for 23% of mobile phone sales, while Nokia Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:NOK) took third place with 19%. However, Nokia Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:NOK) slipped from third place to seventh place in smartphone sales in the third quarter of 2012, with only 7.2 million smartphones sold. Worldwide smartphones sales are expected to continue to increase, but at a slower rate than years before as the market becomes saturated.

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