When the Going Gets Tough, TriQuint Gets Going

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TriQuint Semiconductor (Nasdaq: TQNT  ) loves it when life gets complicated.

In last night's earnings call, CEO Ralph Quinsey explained what it is about his radio controller chips that makes everybody from Motorola (NYSE: MOT  ) to Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) reach for TriQuint chips when they're designing smartphones: They're built to handle complexity.

For example, when Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S  ) commissioned its 4G mobile hot spots, TriQuint ended up inside both the HTC EVO 4G Android phone and the Overdrive dedicated hot spot. "The technology challenge is the adjacency of 4G and Wi-Fi spectrum," Quinsey said. "This can cause significant interference and poor performance for the user. TriQuint's BAW filter products prevent this interference and are in high demand for this application."

That's just one example of the complex signal talk that was a theme for the whole discussion. Management believes that nobody else sells cross-frequency integrated products quite like TriQuint's, so nobody else is equipped to deal with these problems. Not specialists SkyWorks Solutions (Nasdaq: SWKS  ) or RF Micro Devices (Nasdaq: RFMD  ) , nor even diversified chip giants like Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN  ) .

I don't have the technical qualifications to evaluate that statement (and if you do, please share your insights in the comments box below), but the financial results seem to back up Quinsey's words. In the second quarter, TriQuint grew sales by 23% year over year while also expanding margins across the board; the end result is GAAP earnings of $0.14 per share, up from $0.03 per share a year ago.

In Quinsey's view, the trend toward more smartphones serves TriQuint well. When you're packing multiple radio signal handlers into a single device, including 3G or 4G voice and data, GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and so on, you get both multiple opportunities to land at least part of the design win -- and more of that lovely complexity that TriQuint does so well. 

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Fool contributor Anders Bylund doesn't hold a position in any of the companies discussed here. Sprint Nextel is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor choice. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.

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