With fourth-quarter earnings winding down, and analysts now getting a look at the landscape for 2015, the final scorecard for the top semiconductor stocks is starting to look pretty impressive. Despite some high-profile downward forward guidance, notably from SanDisk, Micron Technologies and Qualcomm, 67% of reported companies (29/43) beat revenue estimates for the fourth quarter and 52% guided first quarter revenues higher. In a new report from RBC, while they expect overall chip estimates to be down 0.8 compared to earlier estimates, the analysts still feel comfortable with the sector for 2015.
While many of the companies reporting earnings beats were smaller cap and accounted for less overall revenue, the sector trend remains in place. We screened the RBC list of stocks that have reported that beat revenue and earnings estimates. While RBC apparently only covers one of the stocks, the others are decided Wall Street favorites.
Broadcom Corp. (NASDAQ: BRCM) leads off the top chip stocks beating estimates. Broadcom supplies touch-screen controller chips for the iPhone 6, and it is a top supplier to both Samsung and Apple. Many Wall Street analysts feel that Broadcom, which hosted a very well-received analyst day back in December, will implement the shareholder-friendly strategic changes that the company unveiled at that meeting. With a wide range of dynamic and innovative products that serve a wide swath of business, the stock is a solid bet.
Broadcom shareholders are paid a 1.3% dividend. The RBC price objective is $50, and the Thomson/First Call consensus price target is $47.45. The stock closed on Monday at $43.37.
Cirrus Logic Inc. (NASDAQ: CRUS) is a supplier of high-precision analog and digital signal processing components for a variety of audio, energy and industrial applications. Cirrus Logic reported outstanding earnings and forward estimates that were very impressive. Apple is reported to be its largest customer, accounting for 78% of the revenue in the recent quarter, and some on Wall Street have worried about the concentration of business. Cirrus recently acquired Wolfson Microelectronics, which added some diversification to the revenue stream as Wolfson also supplies to Samsung and other Android phone makers.
The consensus price target is posted at $33.75. Shares closed Monday at $28.58.
NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NASDAQ: NXPI) is the top pick at many major Wall Street firms. Building on its expertise in High Performance Mixed Signal electronics, NXP is driving innovation in the automotive, identification and mobile industries, and in application areas including wireless infrastructure, lighting, health care, industrial, consumer tech and computing. NXP has operations in more than 25 countries, but analysts are focused on the huge possibilities in automotive technology in what is called the “connected car.” Many see automotive generating 20% of total revenues and say that growth could outgrow in the sector the broader chip market over the next couple of years.
The consensus price target is $88.38, and the stock closed trading on Monday at $80.97.
Silicon Laboratories Inc. (NASDAQ: SLAB) also reported stellar upside revenues and earnings for the fourth quarter. It is an industry leader in the innovation of high-performance, analog-intensive, mixed-signal integrated circuits. Silicon Labs’ diverse portfolio of patented semiconductor solutions offers customers significant advantages in performance, size and power consumption. The company recently bought Bluegiga technologies, a Finnish company, for $61 million, expanding its footprint in short-range wireless connectivity solutions and software for the Internet of Things.
The consensus price target is $53.50. The stock closed trading on Monday at $47.44 a share.
Skyworks Solutions Inc. (NASDAQ: SWKS) is an innovator of high-performance analog semiconductors. Leveraging core technologies, Skyworks supports automotive, broadband, wireless infrastructure, energy management, GPS, industrial, medical, military, wireless networking, smartphone and tablet applications. The company announced that it is ramping front-end modules, wireless connectivity switches, power amplifiers, low noise amplifiers, and power management solutions for streaming media and smart TV applications supporting OEMs such as Roku, Google, Amazon and Samsung.
Skyworks investors are paid a small 0.65% dividend. The consensus price objective is $90.78, and Skyworks closed Monday at $79.08.
Even though the chip sector is expected to slow slightly in 2015, these top companies are in full stride with innovation and earnings. While some have risen fast, and investors may want to buy shares on a pullback, they all are excellent stocks to own in an aggressive growth portfolio.