Should you sell Skyworks Solutions (Nasdaq: SWKS) today?

The decision to sell a stock you've researched and followed for months or years is never easy. If you fall in love with your stock holdings, you risk becoming vulnerable to confirmation bias -- listening only to information that supports your theories, and rejecting any contradictions.

In 2004, longtime Fool Bill Mann called confirmation bias one of the most dangerous components of investing. This warning has helped my own personal investing throughout the Great Recession. Now, I want to help you identify potential sell signs on popular stocks within our 4-million-strong Fool.com community.

Today I'm laser-focused on Skyworks, ready to evaluate its price, valuation, margins, and liquidity. Let's get started!

Don't sell on price
Over the past 12 months, Skyworks has risen 94.6% versus an S&P 500 return of 11.3%. Investors in Skyworks have every reason to be proud of their returns, but is it time to take some off the top? Not necessarily. Short-term outperformance alone is not a sell sign. The market may be just beginning to realize the true, intrinsic value of Skyworks. For historical context, let's compare Skyworks' recent price to its 52-week and five-year highs. I've also included a few other businesses in the broader communications semiconductor market:

Company

Recent Price

52-Week High

5-Year High

Skyworks $23.80 $24.68 $24.70
RF Micro Devices (Nasdaq: RFMD) $7.17 $7.62 $9.58
Broadcom (Nasdaq: BRCM) $42.00 $42.70 $50.00
Marvell Technology Group (Nasdaq: MRVL) $18.94 $22.87 $36.80

Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's.

Skyworks is basically at its 52-week high. This means we need to dig into the valuation to ensure that these previously untested highs are justified.

Potential sell signs
First, let's look at the gross margins trend, which represents the amount of profit a company makes for each $1 in sales, after deducting all costs directly related to that sale. A deteriorating gross margin over time can indicate that competition has forced the company to lower prices, that it can't control costs, or that its whole industry's facing tough times. Here is Skyworks' gross margin over the past five years:

Swksgrossmargins
 

Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's.

Skyworks is having no trouble maintaining its gross margin, which tends to dictate a company's overall profitability. This is solid news; however, Skyworks investors need to keep an eye on this over the coming quarters. If margins begin to dip, you'll want to know why.

Next, let's explore what other investors think about Skyworks. We love the contrarian view here at Fool.com, but we don't mind cheating off of our neighbors every once in a while. For this, we'll examine two metrics: Motley Fool CAPS ratings and short interest. The former tells us how Fool.com's 170,000-strong community of individual analysts rate the stock. The latter shows what proportion of investors are betting that the stock will fall. I'm including other peer companies once again for context.

Company

CAPS Rating

Short Interest (% of Float)

Skyworks 4 10.3
RF Micro Devices 4 6.1
Broadcom 3 3.0
Marvell Technology 4 2.5

Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's.

The Fool community is rather bullish on Skyworks. We typically like to see our stocks rated at four or five stars. Anything below that is a less-than-bullish indicator. I highly recommend you visit Skyworks' stock pitch page to see the verbatim reasons behind the ratings.

Here, short interest is at a high 10.3%. This typically indicates that large institutional investors are betting against the stock.

Now, let's study Skyworks' debt situation, with a little help from the debt-to-equity ratio. This metric tells us how much debt the company's taken on, relative to its overall capital structure.

Swkstotaldebttoequity
 

Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's.

Skyworks has done a good job of reducing its debt over the past five years. When we take into account increasing total equity over the same time period, this has caused debt-to-equity to decrease, as seen in the above chart. Based on the trend alone, that's a good sign. I consider a debt-to-equity ratio below 50% to be healthy, though it varies by industry. Skyworks is currently below this level, at 5.7%.

The last metric I like to look at is the current ratio, which lets investors judge a company's short-term liquidity. If Skyworks had to convert its current assets to cash in one year, how many times over could the company cover its current liabilities? As of the last filing, Skyworks has a current ratio of 3.87. This is a healthy sign. I like to see companies with current ratios equal to or greater than 1.5.

Finally, it's highly beneficial to determine whether Skyworks belongs in your portfolio -- and to know how many similar businesses already occupy your stable of investments. If you haven't already, be sure to put your tickers into Fool.com's free portfolio tracker, My Watchlist. You can get started right away by clicking here to add Skyworks.

The final recap
Swkssellingrecap

Skyworks has failed only one of the quick tests that would make it a sell. This is great, but does it mean you should hold your Skyworks shares? Not necessarily. Just keep your eye on these trends over the coming quarters.

Remember to add Skyworks to My Watchlist  to help you keep track of all our coverage of the company on Fool.com.

If you haven't had a chance yet, be sure to read this article detailing how I missed out on over $100,000 in gains through wrong-headed selling.