4 Top Semiconductor Analyst Picks as Sector Remains Red Hot

February 15, 2017 by 247lee

If you have been long the semiconductor stocks over the past year, you have absolutely knocked the ball out of the proverbial park, but like all good trades, things may be coming to an end as the sector has become extremely expensive. In fact, since the market lows last year on February 11, the PHLX Semiconductor Sector Index (SOX), which tracks the sector, is up a stunning 73%.

So what are investors to do? One good idea is to be very selective and, most importantly, stay with the companies that are in the right markets for their products. The means industrial, automotive and communications, which led during the fourth quarter and still look solid.

In a new SunTrust Robinson Humphrey research report, the analysts focused on four companies that are the firm’s best cyclical ideas now. All are rated Buy and make good sense for risk-tolerant investors.

Analog Devices

This stock is still trading way below levels printed in the summer of 2015. Analog Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: ADI) is a leader in the design, manufacture and marketing of analog, mixed-signal and digital signal processing integrated circuits for use in industrial, automotive, consumer and communication markets worldwide. It offers signal processing products that convert, condition and process real-world phenomena, such as temperature, pressure, sound, light, speed and motion, into electrical signals.

The company recently introduced a highly integrated polyphase analog front end with power quality analysis designed to help extend the health and life of industrial equipment while saving developers significant time and cost over custom solutions. Achieving extremely accurate, high-performance power quality monitoring typically requires customized development, which can be expensive and time consuming.

The analysts cited this in the report:

We believe Analog Devices will offer investors several positive surprises as we progress through 2017. We see several areas of upside: First, we believe the Linear Technology Corporation (NASDAQ: LLTC) acquisition will close earlier (Feb/Mar) than expected (April). Second, we expect net leverage will be approximately 3.1x at close, well below management’s 3.8x guidance. Third, we believe management will ultimately exceed its $150 million of targeted synergies. Fourth and finally, we believe the upward earnings-per-share revision will be constructive for the stock.

Analog Devices investors receive a 2.16% dividend. The SunTrust price target for the stock is 93. The Wall Street consensus target is $79.58. Shares closed Tuesday at $77.84.

Broadcom

This stock has been on a roll over the past year and is expected to trade even higher. Broadcom Ltd. (NASDAQ: AVGO) is a leading designer, developer and global supplier of a broad range of analog and digital semiconductor connectivity solutions. Its extensive product portfolio serves four primary end markets: wired infrastructure, wireless communications, enterprise storage and industrial and other.

Applications for the company’s products in these end markets include data center networking, home connectivity, broadband access, telecommunications equipment, smartphones and base stations, data center servers and storage, factory automation, power generation and alternative energy systems and displays.

The company produces radio frequency (RF) front-end for LTE-enabled Apple products. Wall Street estimates that the company does 15% of its total business with Apple. Top Wall Street analysts like the leadership in the mobile, data center and broadband markets, and especially in the RF arena. Many on Wall Street see a cyclical rebound in industrial and communications demand.

Top analysts are also very positive on the company benefiting on the ramp to both the Tomahawk and the Tomahawk 2 and routing silicon Jericho and Qumran. Facebook is expected to use the company’s Tomahawk switching chip in the Voyager project. The Kalia, Qumran-AX & Qumran-UX families of products are complementary to Broadcom’s high-capacity StrataDNX Jericho and Qumran-MX SoCs. Together they provide the industry’s most comprehensive end-to-end portfolio of switching solutions across the carrier, data center and enterprise markets.

Shareholders receive a 2% dividend. SunTrust has a $227 price target, and the consensus target is 216.23. Shares closed Tuesday at $205.33.

Microsemi

This company could benefit from the continued industrial demand. Microsemi Corp. (NASDAQ: MSCC) offers a comprehensive portfolio of semiconductor and system solutions for communications, defense and security, aerospace and industrial markets.

Products include high-performance and radiation-hardened analog mixed-signal integrated circuits (ICs), power management products; timing and synchronization devices and precise time solutions, setting the world’s standard for time; voice processing devices; RF solutions; security technologies and scalable anti-tamper products; Ethernet solutions; Power-over-Ethernet ICs and midspans.

While it hasn’t actually announced a deal, the company is said to still be running a sale process after receiving takeover interest from Skyworks Solutions, according to people familiar with the matter. Microsemi hired Bank of Montreal last year to run a broader auction after Skyworks offered to buy the company, the people said, asking not to be named because the negotiations are private. The process is in the early stages, no deal is imminent and a transaction may not occur.

The analysts’ report noted:

We envision three ways for investors to profit in the company: (1) if the company executes reasonably well towards its 6-8% organic sales growth target, it should deliver revenue and earnings-per-share upside, lower financial leverage, and should be rewarded with a higher P/E multiple; (2) if the company pursues another acquisition after achieving 3.0x leverage (we estimate potentially in the first half of 2017) it will not likely achieve P/E multiple expansion, but will benefit from higher EPS estimates; (3) if the company is acquired, which management has openly discussed.

The $68 SunTrust price target compares with the consensus target of $63.91. Shares closed Tuesday at $53.32.

Avnet

The analysts see this company as the sleeper in the bunch, as they think it is ignored by investors and Wall Street. Avnet Inc. (NYSE: AVT) and its subsidiaries distribute electronic components, enterprise computer, networking and storage products and software, IT solutions and services, and embedded subsystems in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Asia-Pacific. It operates through two segments.

The Electronics Marketing segment markets and sells semiconductors; interconnect, passive and electromechanical devices; and embedded products for the electronic component manufacturers, as well as offers services that enable customers to evaluate, design-in and procure electronic components throughout the lifecycle of their technology products and systems.

The Technology Solutions segment creates and delivers data center and IT lifecycle solutions that solve the business challenges of end-user customers. This segment also provides value-added distribution of enterprise computing servers and systems, software, storage, services and complex solutions; and hard disk drives, microprocessors, motherboards and DRAM module technologies to personal computing integrators and value-added resellers.

The analyst pointed out:

The new CEO recently unveiled a strategy to create value including a renewed focus on (a) acquisitions and (b) more profitable revenue. Although we dislike negative earnings revisions resulting from divestitures, the company’s model will look much improved by 2018.

Investors receive a 1.46% dividend. The SunTrust price objective is $53. The consensus target is $48.39. Shares closed Tuesday at $46.66.

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While the huge upside is probably gone, all these companies offer aggressive investors some good potential for gains. It may be smart to buy partial positions here and see if we don’t get a pullback in the shares.