Helping cell-phone, smartphone and tablet makers and communications-service providers ride the wave are lesser-known companies. The following are five Under the Radar picks playing their own part in the hottest investment industry.
( ATHR) Atheros, whose stock has doubled in the past year, has fallen apart over the past few trading days as equity-market volatility increased and the chipmaker's relentless growth might begin to slow.
Atheros makes wireless chips and semiconductors, which can be found in a range of mobile applications and standard networking components. Apple is among Atheros' clients, using the company's wireless chipsets in its MacBook laptops. Ninetnedo also is a customer. Atheros has a strong balance sheet, creating a solid foundation. Expect this stock to perform well in the coming quarters.
This company specializes in wireless and wire-line communications. Atlantic Tele-Network has a price-to-free-cash-flow ratio of only 11 versus the industry's average of 29.7.
Picking up patches in areas such as the Caribbean and the Midwest has fallen to smaller players like Atlantic Tele-Network. By focusing on regions that are less hotly contested, Atlantic Tele-Network has carved out a niche that has proven to be profitable. The stock has risen 86% in the past year.
Synaptics produces touch-screen technology, which is all the rage. The company's touch sensors and software allow users to control devices with innovative gestures.
With a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 11.7 and a PEG ratio of 0.74, the stock is cheaper than its competitors. The shares have fallen 9.8% this year and 4.8% in the past 12 months. Synaptics' revenue has declined slightly in recent quarters, but the company still beat estimates in each of the past four periods.
This little-known company supplies chips for the Apple iPad, according to tech-design consultancy Chipworks. Atmel has taken business from another Under the Radar pick, Synaptics, by supplying touch screens for
new Evo device, according to Lazard Capital Markets.
The past two years have been lean at Atmel. The company lost $27 million in 2008 and $109 million in 2009. Analysts say the company will return to profitability in 2010 with earnings of almost 2 cents a share. The company is expected to boost revenue by 18% to $1.44 billion this year. Investors have taken note: The stock is up 13% this year, the only company in this group to notch a gain in 2010.
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China's Telestone Technologies offers access to the huge growth potential of that country's wireless-communications market. The small-cap company has its risks -- share-price volatility is sky high. The stock has quadrupled over the past year, and it's down 47% in 2010.
Beyond the risks, though, lies an interesting opportunity. As China converges with the developed world, cell-phone usage should continue to rise. Currently, Telestone is operating with a profit margin of 17.4% and no long-term debt. Net income and revenue are growing at an extremely fast pace as China shakes off some of the global economic slowdown.
-- Reported by David MacDougall in Boston.
Prior to joining TheStreet Ratings, David MacDougall was an analyst at Cambridge Associates, an investment consulting firm, where he worked with private equity and venture capital funds. He graduated cum laude from Northeastern University with a bachelor's degree in finance and is a Level III CFA candidate.