Maxim Integrated Products (NASDAQ: MXIM ) has a lot going for it this year. The company's stock is up 23% in 2014, and analysts believe that it is gaining share in Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL ) devices. Last month, Pacific Crest Securities reported that Maxim might have "won multiple audio amplifier sockets on Apple's upcoming new products." Undoubtedly, this is great news for Maxim investors. However, Maxim's prospects include more than just Apple, as the company has a diversified business and can profit from different markets.
Diversification to drive growth
Maxim's chips are used in several applications, including communications, computing, consumer, industrial, and automotive. This diversity helps Maxim mitigate the effect of a slowdown in any one of its segments. For example, its consumer business dropped in the third quarter, owing to seasonality. However, the industrial segment flourished thanks to growth in automotive and the core industrial business.
The company saw strong production ramps in infotainment and LED lighting applications for the automotive business, and this trend is expected to continue going forward. In 2014, global automotive sales are expected to increase 3.4%, according to IHS, while LMC Automotive believes that the market will improve 5%. As a result, Maxim should see sustained demand from the automotive segment.
The rollout of 4G LTE in China, and Maxim's cable infrastructure products, are helping it tap growth in base stations. As a result, the communications business increased more than 15% year over year in the third quarter. This segment is expected to be up in the current quarter as well.
Maxim's optical, radio frequency, and power products are being used in the 4G LTE infrastructure build out in China, opening up a massive opportunity for the company. China Mobile will spend around $13 billion to roll out LTE in China, giving Maxim more runway for growth. Further, Maxim's cable infrastructure business is also flourishing due to the adoption of its advanced data-converter products.
A look at mobile
Maxim is diversifying its exposure in the mobility business in several ways, beyond serving its leading customers.
The company is expanding its technology offerings for mobile devices, which include power management, optical sensor, MEMS, audio amplifiers, and touch products. It is shipping next-generation audio amplifiers to a major customer and sees opportunities to differentiate in audio. This major customer could be Apple, according to Pacific Crest's report. If Maxim is indeed gaining more content in Apple's devices, its mobility business will receive a big lift this year.
According to an article on Cult of Mac, Apple might sell a whopping 80 million iPhone 6 units by the end of the year. Rumors indicate that Apple will launch its next iPhone in two sizes, a 4.7-inch phone and a 5.5-inch phablet. The 4.7-inch model is expected to be a runaway success, accounting for 70 million of the estimated sales figure. Since Maxim is reportedly supplying more content to Apple, robust iPhone sales will certainly bump up its business.
Maxim also sees tremendous demand in the mid-range smartphone market, especially in China. The company has already won new power with its system-on-a-chip in this market, and expects to gain more traction going forward. Mid-range phones are becoming richer in their feature set, which has enabled Maxim to leverage its expertise for developing high-end smartphones and gain market share in the Chinese smartphone market.
The company is also expanding beyond smartphones with tablets, e-readers, and wearables. Particularly, wearable devices have gained robust traction, owing to Maxim's expertise in highly integrated small-form-factor and low-power solutions.
Driven by its strong products and positive trends in different segments, Maxim's backlog at the beginning of the fourth quarter increased. The company saw strong bookings in the third quarter, because of which its backlog increased to $413 million.
Better times ahead
Maxim has created a healthy portfolio of products and capabilities over the past few years. On the basis of its strong portfolio, Maxim is now seeing gains across its businesses as it provides system-level integration to customers. It is focused on developing a simpler system design that consumes less power and delivers better performance, which should help it post better results going forward.
Overall, Maxim looks like a good investment, given its cheap forward P/E of less than 17, a dividend yield of 3%, and positive growth prospects. The company's stock has upside potential, despite gaining 23% in 2014, and investors should continue holding it in their portfolios.
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