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LED producers look interesting again

By Chris Lau for Kapitall.

After falling 30% percent from its yearly high, Cree (CREE) may be about to turn around. The company, which makes LED lighting, bottomed at $40 and moved up again after Oppenheimer upgraded the stock. The investment house thinks Cree is worth $59.

Cree transition complete

Operating first as a supplier of LED solutions, Cree ignited this industry by making acquisitions that would move the company more closely to end users. The firm supplies LED light bulbs to customers through Home Depot (HD). If LED gains wider acceptance from consumers, revenue could soar.

Cree could be takeover target

To accelerate development of LED solutions, Phillips merged its component unit, Lumileds, with its automotive lighting business. The move by Phillips could mean an eventual merger between the unit and Cree.

Weak quarter could be temporary

Since reporting weak Q3 earnings, Cree’s shares bottomed in April 2014. The firm earned $0.39 per share on revenue of $405 million. Earnings exceeded consensus, but revenue missed expectations. The current quarter will be weaker than analyst expectations. Cree expects Q4 revenue will be $430 million – $460 million. Earnings will be as low as $0.38 per share. At the time, analysts expected Q4 will be $0.44 per share.

Better results from Cree will take several quarters to play out. The company’s near term weakness does not mean revenue growth will be sluggish forever. Adoption of LED by consumers will need more support from sales staff and advertising. As awareness for LED lighting grows, so will sales.

Alternative Investments

Tokyo Electron Ltd. (OTC:TOELY) and Vishay Intertechnology (VSH) are two alternative investments. The former sells semiconductor production equipment (“SPE”) and flat panel display (“FPD”) production equipment.

With Cree shares underperforming, investors might get a better return from the company as its prospects improve throughout the course of the year.

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