NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Semiconductor stocks have shown surprising strength this year. Industry consolidation, the Internet of Things, and new types of chip technology, besides silicon, are all leading to bigger profits for shareholders.
Whether your aim is growth or income, there is a semiconductor stock to fit your portfolio.
Here are five of the best.
Micron (MU) - Get Free Report , which makes memory chips, is up 44% this year and is due to go higher after reporting quarterly net income of $1.15 billion. That's 96 cents per share in quarterly earnings, fully diluted, on revenues of $4.28 billion. For the full year ending in August, sales were up 80%, to $16.39 billion. Earnings per share were up nearly 250%, to $2.54 fully diluted.
The company also issued strong guidance for fiscal 2015, which began Sept. 1. The Dynamic Random Access Memory chip market -- a.k.a. DRAM -- has consolidated in recent years among three major players: Micron and two Korean companies, SK Hynix and Samsung (SSNLF) , which together have 90% of the DRAM market.
Intel (INTC) - Get Free Report is up nearly 32% so far this year, its best performance since 2003. Since taking over as CEO in 2013, Brian Krzanich has led the company to the best performance in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DIA) - Get Free Report . Shares are up 44% under his leadership.
Optimism comes from rising PC sales and consolidation in the foundry business, which is now down to four microprocessor manufacturers: Intel, Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM) - Get Free Report , Samsung and Global Foundries.
Intel controls nearly all the server chip market. It is producing wearables under its own name. Plus it is seeking to control its costs by investing in Chinese companies as it prepares for a booming Internet of Things market.
3. Texas Instruments
Texas Instruments (TXN) - Get Free Report is up slightly less than 10% so far this year. It has become a solid income stock, presently yielding 2.83% on a dividend that was recently boosted to 34 cents per share.
Texas Instruments made its name in digital signal processors. It's the third-largest maker of semiconductors after Intel and Samsung. And TI is the second-largest supplier of chips to cell phones, following Qualcomm. TheStreet rates the stock as a buy with a rating of A.
Qualcomm (QCOM) - Get Free Report stock has been flat during 2014, but is up over 67% over the last five years. It is a major supplier to Apple (AAPL) - Get Free Report and the largest maker of chips for mobile devices.
Qualcomm is trying to look beyond smartphones to the Internet of Things, in which its radios, sensors and processors will be in most everyday objects.
The stock has been down for several months after it warned that licensing issues in China for its mobile technology would impact royalty revenue from its patents. But it delivers a dividend now yielding 2.25%, and the stock could rally once the royalty issue is resolved.
Broadcomundefined is a leader in communication chips. Shares are up 36% in 2014, and the company raised its dividend for the fifth year running this year.
Broadcom is the largest "fabless" chip company, meaning it does not have its own fabrication plant or "fab." It was one of the first companies to crack the China market by creating complete product designs rather than just offering chips.
Like many other semiconductor stocks, Broadcom is active in the Internet of Things. It has a reputation as a fierce competitor and has survived a scandal that took down founder Henry Nicholas during the last decade.
At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
TheStreet Ratings team rates MICRON TECHNOLOGY INC as a Buy with a ratings score of A-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:
"We rate MICRON TECHNOLOGY INC (MU) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income and notable return on equity. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results."
You can view the full analysis from the report here: MU Ratings Report