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What's Behind Marvell's Slide in 2012?

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The first half of 2012 is in the rearview mirror, and investors are gearing up for what looks to be an action-packed ending. There are bound to be some big winners -- and more than a few duds -- no matter what happens in the United States and abroad.

Will your favorite stock have its victory lap as we hit the home stretch, or will it get lapped? First-half performances can hold some clues, so let's look to the recent past to find out whether Marvell Technology (Nasdaq: MRVL  ) deserves a place in your portfolio going forward.

First-half recap
Marvell's stock hasn't had a good year so far, as you can see here:

MRVL Total Return Price Chart

MRVL Total Return Price data by YCharts.

Here are a few financial snapshots of its recent performance:

Market Cap $6.1 billion
TTM Revenue $3.39 billion
TTM Net Income $563 million
TTM Free Cash Flow $690 million
MRQ Revenue $796 million
MRQ Net Income $95 million
MRQ Free Cash Flow $178 million
MRQ Revenue/Net Income Year-Over-Year Change (0.7%)/(35.4%)
P/E and Forward P/E 11.7/7.5
Price to Free Cash Flow 8.8
Motley Fool CAPS Rating (out of 5) **** (find out more by clicking here)

Source: Morningstar. TTM = trailing-12-month. MRQ = most recent quarterly.

What the numbers don't tell you
Marvell's performance for much of 2012 closely mirrored the progress of the major indexes, until breaking down in May. Most of Marvell's news was of the slow-and-steady variety. The company started off the year by buying one of the two networking-chip competitors to its EZchip (Nasdaq: EZCH  ) partnership. The deal leaves Marvell and EZchip stacked against Broadcom (Nasdaq: BRCM  ) , which ought to boost both the ceiling and the stability of Marvell's earnings in that segment going forward.

Marvell's fourth-quarter earnings continued the positive trend. Key customers Seagate (Nasdaq: STX  ) and Western Digital certainly dented Marvell's bottom line, as their damaged production lines demanded fewer of Marvell's hard drive controllers, but Marvell outperformed expectations anyway.

The hard drive shutdown really hit Marvell in its first-quarter earnings, and it's been all downhill since. Currently scraping along a 52-week low, Marvell's lack of big, exciting news and reliance on hurting industries has held its stock back for some time.

Still, there are signs of hope on Marvell's horizon. The company is partnered with LED specialist Cree (Nasdaq: CREE  ) to produce a dimmable LED bulb, which might be lucrative once the cost of the bulbs comes down. Marvell's also bucked the trend of bad buybacks, making optimal use of its extra cash to reduce its float while shares trade near multiyear lows. Some analysts don't buy the bull case -- Stifel Nicolaus recently lowered its price target to $16, which remains substantially higher than today's price at any rate.

Marvell's networking ambitions might make it a peripheral winner on the mobile battleground. Other stocks could claim total victory. The Motley Fool's most popular free report offers the inside scoop on one company at the heart of this trillion-dollar revolution. Get the information you need -- claim your free copy now.

Fool contributor Alex Planes holds no financial position in any company mentioned here. Add him on Google+ or follow him on Twitter @TMFBiggles for more news and insights.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Western Digital. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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