Applied Materials

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Looking at Applied Materials' ( AMAT) chart lately, you wouldn't necessarily know that the firm is involved in two of the most challenging industries out there right now: semiconductors and solar. Indeed, the past few years have been challenging for both business units, as dropping demand, high competition, and struggling investor sentiment sent shares lower.

While the stock has recovered, it's not out of the woods yet.

One benefit for AMAT is the fact that it's the standard bearer in the semiconductor equipment business, not a chipmaker itself. So while demand has been sluggish for semis in the past couple of years, low rates have at least provided some incentive for manufacturers to invest in their equipment, which has kept revenues climbing since this stock's 2009 sales trough.

Solar has faced a few more headwinds. With many solar stocks in worse shape financially, manufacturers haven't had the same wherewithal to retool factories with AMAT's equipment.

Despite challenges, AMAT still has a phenomenal balance sheet that sports a solid net cash position, and the firm has expanded both sales and margins commendably in the last two fiscal years.

A 12.5% dividend increase brings the firm's yield to 2.95%. This firm makes a good core income holding for investors who are wiling to wait out any near-term capital risks.

Applied Materials shows up on a list of 10 Top Value Stocks With Big Gains in 2012.

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