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Are Micron and NXP Standout Semiconductor Stocks?

Chris Lau, Kapitall: Semiconductor stocks Micron Technology and NXP Semi continue to be on an upward trajectory.

Micron Technology (MU) and NXP Semiconductor (NXPI) are semiconductor stocks that continue to be on an upward trajectory. Both are at 52-week highs, so neither company would appeal to value investors. Many positive drivers still support a bullish view, namely strong demand and favorable product developments.

Read more from Kapitall: Did the January Slide Create a Buying Opportunity?

NXP makes digital signal processing products. It reported strong quarterly earnings on February 5. Revenue was $1.293B, gross margin was steady at 45.6%, while operating margins were 15.3% for the quarter. For the year, operating margin was 13.5%. NXP earned $1.36 per share, which gives a P/E of 38. Its price of profitability (or forward P/E) is just 14, which reflects the expectation that the company will grow earnings this year.
NXP’s HPMS (High Performance Mixed Signal) product performed well, and contributed to the 22% year-over-year growth for NXP. The automobile sector grew, and should be expected to be a strong driver for demand. NXP established a sales run-rate of over $1B annually.

In the DRAM and NAND space, Micron continues to be a favorite. It was upgraded by investment firm JMP to “outperform.” In its fiscal Q1, free cash flow was $838M. This is an improvement from the $385M in Q4. Micron’s gross margin helped contribute to the improvement in cash flow. In Q1, it was 32%, compared to 12% last year.

Micron benefited from strong and stable DRAM pricing. On the supply side, Micron boosted output by acquiring Elpida. The acquisition closed on July 31, 2013, and is now contributing to Micron’s balance sheet.

Micron and NXP by the charts

Micron’s closest comparables are SanDisk (SNDK) and Spansion (CODE). Micron has the most favorable valuation based on forward P/E.

No pullback in sight

Investors would like a pullback in these semiconductor plays, but that does not seem likely. Unless product pricing deteriorates or either company reports a disappointing quarter, both stocks appear poised to continue their upward march.

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