Electronics manufacturing specialist Sanmina-SCI (Nasdaq: SANM) is tumbling today after a disappointing earnings report. You wouldn't know it was bad from listening to Sanmina's management, though.

"Fiscal 2010 was a great year for Sanmina-SCI with healthy revenue growth and margin expansion driven by solid execution of our strategy," CEO Jure Sola said. Well, it ended with a 4% quarter-over-quarter revenue boost to $1.7 billion and earnings jumping from $0.26 per share to $0.38 per share. That's not terrible, but still less impressive in many ways than the 13% sales jump and 29% earnings boost reported by close rival Flextronics (Nasdaq: FLEX) last week.

What's worse is that Sanmina sees both revenue and earnings falling in the coming quarter. Besides, some of this quarter's earnings strength came from tax optimization maneuvers rather than running the business better. There are more tax dodges to come, but not enough to keep the company's bottom line growing.

Sanmina is improving its margins, and every little bit makes a big difference when you're scraping along very close to breakeven to begin with. The electronics manufacturing industry is a low-margin, high-volume sector that will feel instantly familiar to investors in low-margin superstars Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) or Wal-Mart Stores. I don't think Sanmina should brag too loudly about a 4% net margin, as it did this quarter, when Tyco Electronics (NYSE: TEL) sports more than double that take-home ratio today.

Sola talks about his "differentiated strategy" setting the stage for a strong 2011 and explains the differentiation as "market diversification, operational excellence and leading edge technology." I'm sorry, but that would sound just about right coming from Flextronics, Tyco, or Jabil Circuit (NYSE: JBL), too. I'm not buying that collection of platitudes as a business advantage, because it's really just keeping up with the Joneses.

Do you have a different take on what makes Sanmina unique? The comments box below is dying to hear it.

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