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Apple Inc. (AAPL) Extends Partnership with Liquidmetal til 2016

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) recently extended its agreement with Liquidmetal Technologies to retain the rights to the unique metal alloy that Apple requires for its production processes.

Per the agreement, Liquidmetal contributes its developed or acquired technology to a special purpose subsidiary that exclusively licenses the technology to Apple. The initial agreement was signed on Aug 5, 2010 and later extended on Jun 15, 2012. Another extension was announced on May 17, 2014, which was valid til Feb 5, 2015. Now Liquidmetal has extended the deal til Feb 5, 2016.

Currently, Apple uses the metal only in its SIM card ejector. However, in the light of the extended deal, it seems that the tech bellwether might have bigger plans.

Liquidmetal is an amorphous and non-crystalline material, with some interesting properties. The metal is almost 2.5 times stronger than titanium and about 1.5 times harder than stainless steel. These properties make it viable for the production of electronic devices.

Media reports suggest that Apple might be silently developing some internal device components from these bulk amorphous alloys as the company already has some valuable production patents in place. Liquidmetal has been used for the production of watches and it is possible that Apple might consider make casings for its devices including Apple Watch, iPhones and Mac.

However, a separate deal between Liquidmetal and Swatch can prove be a hindrance for Apple for deploying the metal in its watches.

Last year, Apple had disclosed that it would be deploying a diverse range of materials for its production processes. However, in the absence of any official announcement, we can only speculate.

Apple carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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