Who Will Rule the Texas-Sized Tablet Market?

The last time Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN  ) simply narrowed its guidance rather than raising it, the market took this as a sign of weakness. This time, investors were better prepared.

The chip giant simply lopped a bit off the top and bottom ends of earlier guidance, thus narrowing the outlook down around the original midpoint. TI's share price dipped in after-hours trading, but came back to earlier levels in regular trading, and on the whole, the world looks much the same today as it did yesterday.

Perhaps to jazz up the non-event of reiterated guidance, TI also chose to introduce a couple of new chips today. Of particular note is the refreshed OMAP processor line, now reaching speeds up to 1.5 GHz with two processor cores per chip.

Like the second generation of NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA  ) Tegra and the latest Snapdragon chipsets out of Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM  ) , TI's new OMAPs seem more suited for heavy-duty tablet computer work than basic smartphones. There's a lot of horsepower under the hood of all these chips, easily able to drive complex applications in the high-resolution display modes you'll find on a tablet.

In fact, TI likes to point out that the new processors can handle "the widely anticipated mobile teleconferencing experience." I would be surprised if TI didn't have salespeople knocking on the door at Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO  ) right now, ready to push the fourth-generation OMAP into Cisco's next refresh of the TelePresence high-def conferencing platform. It all fits together.

In any case, TI is looking for high-volume sales for these parts, not even making them available through traditional distribution channels, but only by direct sales to system builders. If you believe in the tablet and smartphone markets but can't figure out which gadget builder to bet on, TI could join your portfolio as a broad-line parts manufacturer that will find toeholds and strongholds in many upcoming hit products. Plus, the company pays a steady dividend, and the stock looks very reasonably valued.

Can you go wrong with Texas Instruments? Explain how (or why not) in the comments below.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. NVIDIA is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. The Fool has written calls (bull call spread) on Cisco Systems. The Fool owns shares of Qualcomm and Texas Instruments. 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 if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.


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  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2010, at 2:18 PM, dpdeery wrote:

    Great article. Another reason I see TI "fairly priced" right now, but with plenty of upside in 2H11, is their unique ability to bundle their digital and analog solutions to the gadget and systems players in the global marketplace. They continue to invest heavily in both areas and with their amazing history of innovation, they will be a formidable player, and winner, for years to come.

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