Is it time to bet on semiconductor company Texas InstrumentsTXN? It would seem so, based on its fourth-quarter earnings beat Wednesday, which showed not only greater adoption rates in its analog chips, but also higher profit margins.
Although Texas Instruments did disappoint investors with a tepid fiscal 2016 outlook, its cash flow is on the rise. Given management's long-standing track record of stock buybacks and dividend increases, Texas Instruments stock, which has a consensus buy rating, offer tons of value. So investors would be better served to ignore the weak outlook and focus on the long term.
Headquartered in Dallas, Texas Instruments on Wednesday reported fourth quarter earning of 80 cents a share on revenue of $3.19 billion. Although revenue was slightly below consensus of $3.2 billion, the earnings per share marked a 5% increase from the year-ago quarter and beat estimates by 11 cents.
The results weren't groundbreaking, but showed the company's core business segments are vastly improved. For instance, although fourth quarter revenue declined, Texas Instruments' gross margin expanded by some 60 basis to 58.5%. At the same time, revenue from the embedded processing segment -- once a weak link for the company -- climbed 4% to $700 million, helping offset a 2% decline in Analog revenue.
What's more -- in line with the company's recent track record of diligent costs controls -- sales and general/administrative expenses were lower by about $24 million. Texas Instruments used the savings during the quarter to take some $630 million worth of its own shares off the market.
Its guidance for first-quarter revenue to be in the range of $2.85 billion to $3.09 billion and EPS of 57 cents a share to 67 cents, disappointed investors, however. But given the macroeconomic sluggishness, combined with fears about oil prices and interest rates, it's tough to blame the company for its conservatism.
From my vantage point, the company's fundamentals, thanks to its transition toward generating higher-margin businesses, remain solid and are in line with management's goals of returning value to shareholders. With Texas Instruments' stock down more than 7% year to date (closing at $51.13 Thursday), investors who are looking for a safe stock that pays a solid dividend yield of 3.00% can do well in the next 12 to 18 months.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.