This Is Almost the Perfect Chip Stock

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You don't have to triple your earnings or double your sales to give your stock a quick boost. It's enough to just report a gentle improvement as long as Wall Street had been expecting less than that.

Such is the case with communications and power control specialist RF Micro Devices (Nasdaq: RFMD  ) today. The designer of specialized chips for a wide range of applications saw second-quarter sales rise a modest 12.2% year over year to $286 million while earnings expanded by a more impressive 160% to $0.13 per share. The company is no longer tied to the hip of Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) as its diversification efforts have made RF Micro a supplier to rival smartphone makers from Motorola (NYSE: MOT  ) and Samsung to Huawei, and the company is also a rising player in gallium nitride materials for LED lights.

This is not an isolated pop, at least not if you ask RF Micro's management. CFO Dean Priddy said: "While we're pleased with our record financial performance, we're even more excited about the future -- when we believe our industry-changing technology and new product ramps will continue to support strong growth in revenue, earnings, and free cash flow."

It warms a Foolish heart to see free cash flows exceeding not only earnings but even rising above operating income, indicating skillful fiscal management and a healthy respect for the power of cash. The company is expanding its margins and paying off debt, alleviating two of the three gripes fellow Fool Jeremy Phillips had with the stock a couple of weeks ago.

Comparing on a trailing-12-month basis, RF Micro is growing both sales and profits faster than rivals Skyworks Solutions (Nasdaq: SWKS  ) and TriQuint (Nasdaq: TQNT  ) , and is more profitable than other semiconductor companies bouncing off the bottom like Cypress Semiconductor (Nasdaq: CY  ) and Intersil (Nasdaq: ISIL  ) . The stock is also considerably cheaper than any of the aforementioned competitors based on trailing earnings.

Follow the story of the little communications chip company that could by adding RF Micro Devices to your watchlist.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Nokia is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Cypress Semiconductor is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio any time you like (but you may never leave), and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.

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