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Tech Titans Eye Economic Upturn

Speaking during a conference call, CEO Rory Read also noted that AMD's server business was heading in "the right direction" with revenue climbing 27% sequentially.

Additionally, TI rival Qualcomm (QCOM) put out strong fourth-quarter numbers and guidance after market close on Wednesday, much to the delight of investors.

Speaking during a conference call, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs pointed to the company's record $15 billion fiscal 2011 revenue and offered bullish outlook. "Looking forward, we expect strong revenue and earnings growth again in fiscal 2012," he said, citing, in particular, demand for smartphone chips running on CDMA telecom networks. "In the coming year, we expect continued healthy growth in CDMA-based device shipments despite the macroeconomic slowdown."

No. 1 chipmaker Intel (INTC) also delivered a blowout quarter recently, with sales jumping nearly 30% year over year.

Although not a semiconductor company, wireless LAN specialist Meru Networks (MERU) also sees signs of a bottom. "I would concur with what [Texas Instruments' CFO] is saying," said Ihab Abu-Hakima, Meru's CEO, highlighting an emerging revenue opportunity. "What we see is the beginning of a big cycle transforming enterprise networks."

Businesses, according to Abu Hakima, are spending money to assimilate employee iPads, smartphones and Google (GOOG) Android tablet onto their corporate networks. "We're still in the early days, but we expect it to accelerate because there's no let up in the flood of devices coming onto the network," said the CEO, whose company put out record product and services revenue in its recent third-quarter results.

Some Silicon Valley firms also have cited strong demand for their wares in key overseas markets, helping offset, for example, the economic woes hanging over Western Europe.

"The one area that has been very strong, and a catalyst for growth, has been that emerging markets segment," explained a spokesman for a major component supplier, who asked not to be named. "[Particularly] Asia-Pacific [and] some of new market economies in Eastern Europe."

Still, though, a question mark still hangs over IT spending for many companies.

"I have seen conflicting information [on whether we are entering a bottom]," explained Bob Beauchamp, CEO of BMC Software (BMC), which recently reported mixed quarterly results. "I have had two different customers in the same industry give me conflicting information on that in the last 45 days."

-- Written by James Rogers in New York

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