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Spreadtrum is the far-and-away market leader in radio chips for the TD-SCDMA wireless standard. TD-SCDMA is the 3G technology used by local market leader China Mobile (NYSE: CHL ) .
That telecom titan has more than 43 million 3G subscribers today, ahead of rivals China Unicom (NYSE: CHU ) at 30 million and China Telecom (NYSE: CHA ) with about 29 million high-speed subscribers. Both of these rivals use the competing WCDMA 3G technology.
To put these numbers into perspective, Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) currently sports about 34 million high-speed 3G and 4G subscribers and AT&T (NYSE: T ) has 36 million of those vaunted accounts. Oh, and the American networks have already pushed 3G contracts or better to at least 39% of their customers, while China Mobile has only achieved 6.8% penetration so far. Another 590 million subscribers are still using "dumb" phones and slower network connections. There's a truly massive untapped market here -- and Spreadtrum claims a better-than-50% market share in TD-SCDMA radio chips.
Sales in the third quarter nearly doubled year over year to $185 million. Non-GAAP earnings also gained 93% to land at $0.83 per American depositary share. The company is buying back shares at a furious pace and plans to double the dividend payout in the coming quarter. That's the kind of financial freedom you get from having such a dominant market position in an exploding sector.
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