NEW YORK (TheStreet) – Of all of the groups that have been discussed in this series of articles so far, the 38% year-to-date gain posted by the semiconductor industry according to Fidelity is perhaps the biggest surprise this year.
Investors entered 2014 with modest growth expectations, partly because chip suppliers such as Qualcomm (QCOM) , which makes wireless chips for Apple (AAPL) and Samsung (SSNLF) , were expected to be hampered by weak margins stemming from lower prices of smartphones.
While the predictions about prices were mostly true, the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index (SOX) is on track to end the year with almost a 30% gain. Take a look at the chart below, courtesy of YCharts.QCOM data by YCharts
Within the industry, Qualcomm has dropped about 1% in 2014 after it posted a gain of more than 20% in 2013.
ARM Holdings (ARMH) , which licenses and sells its technology and products to device makers, has lost about 16% so far this year, although it has rewarded its shareholders with a nearly six-fold gain during the last five years.
With Qualcomm and ARM wallowing in the red for most of 2014, the traditional laggards led the industry's biggest gains.
Leading the charge was Intel (INTC) , which has gained about 40% so far in 2014. Aside from benefiting from the rebound from the personal-computer industry, Intel has pushed into a business known as the Internet of Things , a move that has made investors excited about the company's future. In 2014, Intel has placed huge bets in wearable technology, including its acquisition of Basis Science, a company that makes wearable devices for health applications.