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Riddle me this, dear investor: A company provides a meek outlook for the next quarter but strong trends over the longer term. Is this a sign of weakness, or do you buy the stock to hold over the long haul while short-term traders ignore the earnings report and move on?
Your answer to that question will not only determine whether you share some value investing traits or are a momentum trader, but will also dictate how you'll react to the third-quarter report by Atheros Communications (Nasdaq: ATHR ) .
The wireless chip expert and longtime Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation saw sales shoot up 58% year over year to $247 million, dampened by slow demand for computer systems with Wi-Fi connectivity, but boosted by the rampant popularity of smartphones and other mobile gadgets in need of Internet hookups on the go. Management took particular pains to highlight how Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) is becoming a great customer, presumably by ordering chips for its only in-house hardware product, the Kindle e-book reader.
The broader market for Atheros' computer and infrastructure networking chips continued its downward trends and the fourth quarter will be more of the same. However, CEO Craig Barratt opined that next quarter "will be the low point" of market weakness for connected computers and routers. Meanwhile, mobility remains hot and Atheros sees particular promise in the rise of the Android platform. Not only are Atheros chips popular networking choices in Android handsets, but there are numerous wins in the tablet category coming up as well, and both Logitech International (Nasdaq: LOGI ) and Sony (NYSE: SNE ) went with Atheros networking chips in the first wave of Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG ) Google TV entertainment system.
So yes, the markets that make up the majority of Atheros' sales today are still not quite at the bottom of their barrels. That's a short-term concern that will certainly keep the company's share price depressed for a while. Looking out over the longer view, however, shows that the company is connected to the nines and well-positioned to make a big splash when the market works off its surplus inventories and timid consumer demand.
So, day traders and other opportunistas take the short view of Atheros, but the Foolish perspective would be to break out the binoculars.
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