Atmel Doesn't Need Apple to Survive

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- For quite some time I have liked semiconductor giant Atmel ( ATML) as a company and a stock. However, the challenge has been getting others to appreciate the value it presents.

It seems that for all of the attention semiconductor stocks have enjoyed so far this year -- Qualcomm ( QCOM), ARM Holdings ( ARMH), Nvidia ( NVDA) -- Atmel can't seem to get any love. Is the disrespect deserved?

That it is not in the "halo" of tech giant Apple ( AAPL) continues to hurt Atmel. It is considered "boring." But investors need to ask themselves when that ever mattered on balance sheets.

It seems many insist on confusing "flare" with "value." While Atmel does lack the flamboyance of Intel ( INTC) and Qualcomm, it does present many other advantages not shared by its peers, many of which the market continues to unfairly discount.

But as the underlying premise of investing remains finding value, investors must find opportunities that may not be immediately apparent. Often this includes sacrificing flare.

Atmel is able to compensate for its lack of Apple exposure by competing in several other areas in the non-mobile devices market. Atmel is a leader in microcontrollers, programmable logic devices and a wide range of proprietary system-on-chips and non-volatile memory chips.

The company is also gaining significant market share in other product categories, particularly in the gadget market with its line of maXTouch controllers. Many of these are key components in the touch-screen interfaces on several devices from Nokia ( NOK) and devices that run on Google's ( GOOG) Android platform.

So while at present Atmel might be out of Apple's circle of friends, the company is still relevant to those with whom Apple competes.

With Intel due to start its new marketing campaign upon the release of Microsoft's ( MSFT) Windows 8 operating system and Qualcomm continued dominance in Apple products, Atmel will find it a challenge to gain some momentum of its own.

Again, the company does not need Apple to do it. It just needs to find more growth opportunities in the areas where it is already successful such as those I've mentioned.

From a fundamental perspective, the stock is trading considerably below its book value at $6 per share. But the challenge for management is to find a way to inspire investors to believe that this can indeed become a good turnaround story.

First, it needs to put together a couple of solid quarters in a row. The company is working hard to get its house in order.

I think if investors look closely enough, they will find that Atmel is certainly a name that is worth consideration, particularly at such low valuations.

At the time of publication, the author was long AAPL and held no position in any of the other stocks mentioned.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
Richard Saintvilus is a private investor with an information technology and engineering background and has been investing and trading for over 15 years. He employs conservative strategies in assessing equities and appraising value while minimizing downside risk. His decisions are based in part on management, growth prospects, return on equity and price-to-earnings as well as macroeconomic factors. He is an investor who seeks opportunities whether on the long or short side and believes in changing positions as information changes.