What happened

Last year was a milestone year for Texas Instruments (TXN 0.96%) investors. The stock soared an impressive 43%, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

While the semiconductor company's stock saw a slight gain in the first half of the year, the bulk of the stock's rise came in the second half of the year, powered by its better-than-expected third quarter as management's efforts to pursue growth markets paid off handsomely.

A chalkboard sketch of a bar chart showing growth

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

For its third quarter, Texas Instruments reported a 12% year-over-year increase in revenue and a 29% boost to its earnings per share. Both metrics handily exceeded analysts' expectations, with revenue and earnings per share of $4.12 and $1.26, respectively. On average, analysts expected revenue and EPS of about $3.9 billion and $1.12.

Texas Instruments' shareholder-friendly increases to its dividend and share-repurchase program in September seemed to help investor sentiment toward the stock, too. Texas Instruments increased its dividend by 24% and added $6 billion to its share-repurchase authorization.

Growth during the year was helped by the company's revitalized efforts in semiconductor applications in the fast-growing areas of automotive and industrials markets.

Now what

Looking ahead, management believes its automotive and industrial businesses will continue to help growth.

"We continue to focus our strategy on the industrial and automotive markets where we've been allocating our capital and driving initiatives to strengthen our position," said Dave Pahl, Texas Instruments' vice president and head of investor relations, in the company's most recent earnings call. "This is based on a belief that industrial and automotive will be the fastest-growing semiconductor markets due to their increasing semiconductor content and that they provide diversity and longevity of products."