Upside Expected In Top Semiconductor Stocks (INTC, AMD, MU, BRCM, QCOM, ARMH, SNDK, ALTR, AMAT, TXN)

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Since the beginning of the year the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index is up about 17%. The run-up may be over for some chip makers and sustainable for others. Analysts have set some new target prices for a few of the chip makers, and others are pushing pushing on existing targets.

We’ve looked 10 leading semiconductor companies and evaluated their chances of reaching existing price targets during the coming year. The companies are Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC), Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD), Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MU), Broadcom Corp. (NASDAQ: BRCM), Qualcomm Corp. (NASDAQ: QCOM), ARM Holdings plc (NASDAQ: ARMH), SanDisk Corp. (NASDAQ: SNDK), Altera Corp. (NASDAQ: ALTR), Applied Materials Inc. (NASDAQ: AMAT), and Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN). Data comes from Yahoo! Finance and MarketWatch.

Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) has a consensus price target of $27.90 and current price around $27.32, for a potential upside of about 2%. Intel reported stellar earnings last month and the stock posted a new 52-week last Friday of $27.50. Sales of PCs have been good, and margins have remained high. The new Ultrabooks, which the company is supporting with a very strong marketing budget, could really push the company substantially higher. As of this moment though, shares are fully valued.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) has a consensus price target of $7.00 and a current price around $7.38, leaving no upside. The company reported better-than-expected earnings for the fourth quarter and several analysts have boosted their target prices for the stock. The company’s shares have jumped 15% in the past month.

Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MU) has a consensus price target of $9.25 and a current price around $8.39, for a potential upside of 10.3%. In early January, the company’s price target was $8/share and the shares were trading at around $6.25. The tragic death of the company’s CEO in a plane crash weighed on the stock only briefly, and the company believes that memory prices have touched bottom.

Broadcom Corp. (NASDAQ: BRCM) has a consensus price target of $42 and a current price around $38.47, for a potential upside of 9.2%. Broadcom shares are up 30% since the beginning of the year The company recently completed its $3.7 billion acquisition of NetLogic in an effort to staunch the bleeding in its networking division.

Qualcomm Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOM) has a consensus price target of $71 and a current price around $62.85, for a potential upside of 13%. Qualcomm shares have gained nearly 15% since the beginning of the year and the share price is up more than $8. The company raised its guidance recently and analysts have followed suit.

ARM Holdings plc (NASDAQ: ARMH) has a consensus price target of $33.75 and a current price around $27.55, for a potential upside of more than 22%. ARM’s target price has jumped by nearly $7/share since the beginning of the year, but it is trading at nearly the same price as a month ago. Shares gained nearly 35% in the past year, but royalty payments are falling. One analyst firm reckons that ARM has a 10% cost advantage on its Windows-based notebooks (dubbed ‘WARM’) when compared with Wintel machines. The firm also estimates that ARM could capture 60% of the sub-$500 notebook market.

SanDisk Corp. (NASDAQ: SNDK) has a consensus price target of $60 and a current price around $47.76, for a potential upside of 25.6%. The potential gain on SanDisk shares has risen sharply in the past month, but SanDisk’s shares are down more than -3% so far this year after a nearly flat 2011. That’s not a sign that the potential gains are realistic. Apple’s recent acquisition of of a NAND maker could sharply curtail SanDisk’s sales of the chips for iPhones and iPads.

Altera Corp. (NASDAQ: ALTR) has a consensus price target of $43 and a current price around $39.95, for a potential upside of 7.6%. Altera’s price target was raised in January, and the company’s share price is about $3 higher than at the beginning of the year. But the most recent analyst action was a downgrade — never a good sign.

Applied Materials Inc. (NASDAQ: AMAT) has a median price target of $14.25 and a current price around $12.91, for a potential upside of 10.4%. AMAT’s shares have jumped nearly 20% since the beginning of January, and the price target has also moved up. Despite a good earnings report and an optimistic outlook, Applied may be a victim of concern about falling margins.

Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN) has a consensus target price of $36.50 and a current price around $33.54, for a potential upside of 8.8%. The company’s target price is up $2.50/share since the beginning of the month, the old consensus price of $34 has proven to be a strong barrier.

Since the beginning of the year, Intel, AMD, and TI have essentially hit their target prices. The best bet now appears to be ARM, with a potential upside of 22% and some strong believers in the company’s coming tie-up with Microsoft.

Paul Ausick

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