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Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN ) has roped a powerful bull and is riding that longhorn till the cows come home. The company is surprising itself with unexpectedly strong results at every turn along the way.
Citing tailwinds like tight expense controls and high demand for Texas Instruments' (TI) analog chips, the company reported $0.42 of earnings per share on sales of $2.88 billion. In each case, TI stormed past the highest end of its already optimistic guidance and closed the gap to 2008's pre-meltdown results by a fair bit. On the bottom line, TI came in just a penny short of the year-ago quarter's $0.43 of earnings per share.
We're looking at roughly equal profits dripping down from 15% lower sales. That dichotomy is a sure sign of operational efficiencies that TI didn't have last year. One more quarter like this one will bring TI's sales close to where they were before the Great Panic -- and if TI can keep its operational belt tight, that should translate into much higher profits. The operating margin saw a healthy increase of 22% last year to 26.5% this time around. Perhaps even more impressively, TI nearly doubled operating margin from last quarter.
And TI isn't even done improving its cost structure yet. The company bought cutting-edge chip manufacturing equipment for pennies on the dollar in memory maker Qimonda's bankruptcy sale and will use that low-cost investment to produce more and cheaper analog chips in 2010. TI is slowly leaving the low-margin wireless baseband sector to competitors like Analog Devices (NYSE: ADI ) and Broadcom (Nasdaq: BRCM ) to refocus on the more profitable signal conversion and logic sectors.
In the high-growth mobile field, Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM ) is pushing out its brand-new high-end SnapDragon mobile processor to smartphone makers, while Marvell (Nasdaq: MRVL ) and NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA ) are trying to claim a spot in this profitable rodeo.
But TI's OMAP processor is already in the ring, inside the fanciest new phone Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) can muster. TI is joining this race in a strong position, and is nearly back to business as usual. And business is good in Texas.