Will Synaptics Keep Rolling?

Sometimes the market doesn't pay attention to fundamentals. On momentum alone, a stock can surge to astronomical levels, sometimes becoming the sort of Wall Street darling that can do no wrong. The opposite is also true. Stock prices can collapse to absurdly cheap levels when the market's opinion on a company sours. To know when a stock is both cheap and a good investment, you must know the fundamentals of the company you are buying.

Want an example? How about Synaptics (Nasdaq: SYNA  ) ?

In its most recent earnings report, the company delivered better than the guys and gals on Wall Street had predicted. The maker of the touch-sensitive click wheel for digital music players earned $0.38 per share versus the $0.31 estimate on revenues of $56.7 million. That's a nice 65% boost of the year-ago levels and an impressive 200% increase in earnings per share from last year's quarter. Not bad, not bad at all.

That's not all the good news. Synaptics also plans to buy back its own stock -- up to $40 million worth -- because as the CEO said, "Based on the current price of our common stock, we believe that our stock repurchase program is an excellent use of capital. The decision to repurchase shares emphasizes our focus on stockholder value and our confidence in Synaptics' future prospects." This hints at two possibilities for Synaptics' shareholders or potential investors: Synaptics believes shares are selling below their intrinsic value, and/or repurchasing shares yields a greater return to investors than other forms of capital expenditure.

To me, this suggests that management believes the current price is very attractive. But the Street doesn't see it that way (or at least not right now). The stock price hasn't recovered from the blow it took a couple of months ago following downgrades from a couple of investment firms. For investors, is there something here the pros don't get? The answer to that, my Foolish friend, is yes.

Synaptics doesn't just make the click-wheel technology for MP3 players. The forecast of flat numbers for the next quarter -- due to the slowdown in sales for both Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPod and Creative Technology's (Nasdaq: CREAF  ) music players -- is the market's focal point right now, but Synaptics still has other cards to play. The company plans to enter the mobile phone market, diversifying beyond iPods and notebooks.

Based on current forecasts, Synaptics stock is priced at a trailing P/E of roughly 18. To its merit, the company has surprised the analysts with positive earnings for four consecutive quarters. To this Fool, Synaptics represents a technology company with solid fundamentals that is attractively priced.

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Fool contributor Kelvin Taylor does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.


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