NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- When it comes to chips, snack food giant Lay's has always reminded consumers that "You can't have just one."
This year, I'm realizing that it is also true in the semiconductor industry as the constant battle for chip supremacy unfolds. As enamored as I have become with embattled leader Intel (INTC) in anticipation of a resurgence in their business and stock price, I am equally intrigued by the prospects of a few other names, for no other reason than their exposure to tech giants Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG) and Microsoft (MSFT) as these rivals are gearing up for an all-out rumble for the mobile devices market.
That is not to suggest they wouldn't be ideal holdings otherwise. That fact doesn't hurt either.
When it comes to chips, there are several ways to play -- particularly when considering that some names such as Qualcomm (QCOM) and ARM Holdings (ARMH) present better advantages than others by having greater real estate inside Apple devices as opposed to a name such as Atmel (ATML).However, where Atmel or even a giant such as Texas Instruments (TXN) may fall short on device exposure, they more than make up for it in other aspects of their businesses. Regardless, the underlying premise remains acquiring value and seizing an opportunity that may not be immediately apparent. For example, there is no question that the mobile device market is on the rise. And on the flipside, the PC decline is real -- albeit not as drastic as previously thought. For investors, the way to play the shifting market is to try to understand which chip players will be better positioned to produce market-beating performances. More than one can win. We saw evidence of this at the height of the PC industry when Intel rode the coattails of Microsoft to become one of the most valuable companies in the world. Even today it still owns 80% of the PC chip business. However, during its reign, names such as Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) as well as Nvidia (NVDA) became success stories in their own right. An argument can be made that Broadcom (BRCM) was once as dominant as Intel.
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