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B of A Conference: Cypress Looks to Add More Zest to Chip Business

CEO T.J. Rodgers says the company is 'not a static RAM story.'



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CEO T.J. Rodgers figures the chip cycle won't start heading downhill until a far-off 2004. Feel free to shield the sun from your eyes and squint off into the distance.

Rodgers predicts so much road between now and the coming chip downturn, not because of pragmatism among chipmakers to keep them from the inevitable glut of supply that curses the industry when it oversteps demand, but because of dumb bad luck. "Equipment makers can't keep up. ... Which basically keeps us from killing ourselves again," he said at the

Banc of America Securities Investment Conference

here Wednesday.

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Meanwhile, Rodgers slipped into a hair shirt and flagellated himself for the B of A crowd, to prove himself the penitent man. But more than that, he wanted to move on from Cypress' 1998-99 dip. "Last year, we were not growing, and I fessed up to it," the straight-shooting Cypress CEO said.

Rodgers professed his past guilt in order to absolve his company of future doubts. Once Cypress left the sinful land of lagging growth, Rodgers insisted, it began to double the industry's growth rate in the recovery from the down cycle. Not only that, but it also began to move away from the base pursuit of commodity RAM production to climb on hands and knees toward the higher ideals of chips, for more challenging applications such as telecommunications, data communications, video and voice. Standing stone-faced at the lectern, he said, "Cypress is not, I repeat, not, I repeat, not a static RAM story."

Say it again, brother T.J.!

CEO Dwight Decker relied on an old standard to explain why


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is splitting off its Internet infrastructure chip business from its personal networking chip business. Decker described the nuances between the two businesses, including a separate set of customers, support and functionality desired, and argued that Conexant was "not being rewarded for that complexity" by Wall Street. In other words, Conexant is separating its two piles of customers, and spinning out two distinct companies to lavish them with attention.