Gadgets Help Linear's Quarter - TheStreet

Analog-chip maker

Linear Technology

(LLTC)

posted robust double-digit sales and profit growth in its September quarter, fueled by broad-based demand that was especially marked in Asia and by consumer buying of portable gadgets.

After the close Tuesday, the company reported that sales grew 23% over last year's levels to $174 million, on target with Wall Street expectations.

Gross margin amounted to 76.2%, up from 74.2% a year ago.

Net income of $69.5 million, or 22 cents per share, grew 29% from a year ago, with EPS a penny above consensus estimates.

Both sales and profits grew 5% from the June quarter, said CEO Robert Swanson. He said that if current trends continue, the company expects to see similar sequential growth on the top and bottom lines for the December quarter.

The company said demand for its chips was particularly strong in portable product areas such as cell phones, notebook computers, digital still cameras and MP3 players. By end market, communications improved the most, led by growth in the cell-phone area.

On a geographic basis, demand is improving across the board, but overseas sales are strongest.

On a conference call Wednesday morning, the company said average selling prices declined to $1.39 in the September quarter, down from $1.52 in the prior quarter, due to a shift in the mix toward cell-phone and high-end consumer goods, which have lower average selling prices.

But Linear explained that it still saw gross margin improvement, because with higher unit demand it was able to use its factories more efficiently and spread its fixed costs over a larger base.

Linear broke down its business into the following categories in the most recent quarter: 39% from communications, including cell phones, infrastructure and networking; 21% from computers; 29% from industrial; 4% from automotive; and 2% from space-related products. For the first time, Linear also broke out consumer gadgets as a stand-alone category, noting that goods such as digital still cameras and MP3 players account for 5% of its end markets.

In recent trading, shares were down 72 cents, or 1.7%, to $41.28.