Even if 2011 has proven challenging for stocks, it's still been a strong year for shares of Altera (ALTR). The $13 billion semiconductor company has seen its shares rally more than 14% so far this year. Last week, Altera's management opted to increase that return even more by announcing a 33.3% dividend increase. That move brings Altera's yield to 0.79% at current price levels.
Altera is a leader in the programmable logic device market, a subset of chips that can have its circuitry -- and functions -- reprogrammed by the manufacturer's clients and are purchased by original equipment manufacturers of everything from communications devices to automobile components. Altera is half of the PLD duopoly that currently dominates the market.The abundance of new devices hitting the marketplace is one of the most compelling growth catalysts for Altera right now. High switching costs should guarantee that the firm is able to capture a material chunk of new device contracts as they come available. Solid financial health suggests that the firm's modest dividend is secure for the moment. While this name is far from a core income holding, it should still present a good source of diversification for any dividend portfolio. Altera, one of the top holdings of Renaissance Technologies, was featured recently in "5 Semiconductor Stocks to Buy Now."
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