Cirrus Logic: Icarus ... or Phoenix?

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The soft'ning wax, that felt a nearer sun,
Dissolv'd apace, and soon began to run.
The youth in vain his melting pinions shakes,
His feathers gone, no longer air he takes:
Oh! Father, father, as he strove to cry,
Down to the sea he tumbled from on high.
-- "The Story of Daedalus and Icarus," from Ovid's "Metamorphoses"

Did Cirrus Logic (Nasdaq: CRUS  ) , like Icarus in the National Poetry Month tribute above, fly too high in the third quarter? Preliminary results for the fourth quarter brought the stock back to earth, piling declines on to what has become a 40% drop since Cirrus reached its late-February peak.

I'm not so sure that the allegory is apt. Icarus died from his fall, but I think Cirrus simply took a tumble from which it will rise again. If I'm right, this would be the perfect time to start a position in the stock, much as fellow Fool Eric Bleeker took a real-money position on a temporary dip in early November.

Cirrus says that approximately $91.4 million of third-quarter revenue falls within earlier guidance, but gross margins will shrink and cause $0.06 of damage to earnings per share. That hiccup is due to "a low-yielding product during a major production ramp in March," according to CEO Jason Rhode.

A new audio chip failed to pass quality assurance tests at an alarming rate, leading to heaps of discarded chips and ultimately a less profitable product. Sales weren't hurt, because Cirrus hunkered down to produce enough functional chips to satisfy the unnamed customer, despite the damage this would cause to profit margins.

If I were that customer, this is exactly what I'd want Cirrus to do: deliver on your promises to a fault, lest you damage customer relationships by jilting their product launches. Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) is the crown jewel of Cirrus's customer list, though the timing of Apple ordering a new audio chip in March doesn't exactly jive with release schedules -- the iPad 2 is already on store shelves, and the iPhone 5 launch should still be several months away.

Will Cirrus rise from this fall to approach its namesake clouds once again? I think so. If this episode has any lasting effects, it would be as a confidence-building testament to how hard Cirrus works to satisfy its customers. In the long term, that should lead to more and bigger chip orders, not from Apple but from gadget builders watching Cirrus from afar right now.

So if you see Cirrus announcing a big contract with Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI  ) or Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) in 2011, I think you should credit this Icarean moment for that success.

Want to make sure you don't miss it if Cirrus actually lands a deal like that? Add Cirrus Logic to your watchlist by clicking here. It's a free, easy, and powerful way of staying on top of the news.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Motley Fool Options has recommended a bull call spread position on Apple. The Fool owns shares of Apple, and Cirrus Logic. 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 April 25, 2011, at 7:39 PM, NEVERFADE wrote:

    Im a small time investor. I bought CRUS March options in Jan for $17.50 for somewhere around $1.50. Cashed out when it was at $22.50 with an extra 2 weeks left to run for $6.00/each.

    For young, small time investors options are where its at. Good luck quadrupling your money in 60 days in regular stocks.

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