Why Atmel Shares Soared

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Atmel  (NASDAQ: ATML  ) rose 14% during intraday trading Thursday after the company released mixed quarterly results but announced it has added an additional $300 million to its outstanding stock repurchase authorization.

So what: Quarterly net revenue fell 1% year over year to $356.3 million, which translated to adjusted net income of $37.7 million, or $0.09 per diluted share. For reference, analysts were modeling the same $0.09 adjusted earnings per share on slightly higher sales of $357.7 million.

However, largely thanks to the company's expectation of continuing to generate strong cash flow from operations going forward, Atmel also announced that its board of directors has authorized an additional $300 million to be added to its existing stock repurchase authorization, bringing the total amount to $1 billion.

Now what: For reference, Atmel repurchased roughly $4.6 million shares at roughly $7.52 per share during the third quarter, bringing its total repurchases since the second half of 2010 to $636 million.

Personally, I'd prefer Atmel give shareholders a little more freedom by offering a dividend, which would allow everybody to choose for themselves whether to reinvest. However, management made it clear during the subsequent earnings conference call that it continues to believe buybacks are the way to go. Still, in lieu of adequate earnings appreciation or finding ways to effectively reinvest in growing its business, grappling with the best methods to deploy all its excess cash is an enviable problem for Atmel to have.

In the end, while I won't be buying shares of Atmel anytime soon, I can't blame the market for bidding the price up today.

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