I've been accused of putting a negative spin on Cirrus Logic (Nasdaq: CRUS ) and its business prospects. Notably, I couldn't help but take notice when the rumor mill indicated Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) might be going elsewhere for audio chips in the next generation of iPhones and iPads. Making it clear we were talking about rumor and not fact wasn't enough to appease the critics, though the backlash quickly subsided when Cirrus took pains to debunk the incorrect rumors.
So let me take a moment today, on the eve of earnings reports from both Apple and Cirrus, to say that I don't hate Cirrus at all. In fact, I think it's one of the best chip stocks on the market in stiff competition with processor underdog Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD ) , memory maker Micron Technology (NYSE: MU ) , and networking aficionado Marvell Technology Group (Nasdaq: MRVL ) . AMD is undervalued, Micron even more so, and Marvell is dominating in a wireless world -- yet none of these companies can boast the bright future and lack of proper discussion that Cirrus can.
Apple plays a large part in Cirrus' strength and will continue to serve the company well over the next couple of years, but ultimately serves more as a launch pad for a bigger and better future rather than the end-all definition of what Cirrus can do.
Edging out Wolfson Microelectronics as Apple's audio provider of choice put rocket boosters under Cirrus, and the company is now busy building that platform into further wins in audio and power management designs. Mobile audio is a big part of the Cirrus equation today, but the company is also big in Blu-ray players, home audio systems, and non-Apple smartphones. Even if you assume that Android will destroy the iPhone and the iPad in three years' time (not bloody likely, for the record), Cirrus would have enough business to keep on trucking without Apple.
That being said, I'm sure that Cirrus will continue to ride Apple's coattails for as long as possible, which includes smashing demure analyst expectations in both this week's quarterly report and the holiday-powered one we'll see in three months. Despite overwhelming proof that both iPad and iPod sales have gone through the roof, not a single analyst tracked by Yahoo! Finance has adjusted expectations to account for the outperformance in the past 60 days. That's why small, obscure, and underfollowed stocks seldom receive the right valuation until all the cards are on the table, and why Cirrus is a virtual lock to keep beating the market for the foreseeable future.
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