Some would invest in Skyworks Solutions (Nasdaq: SWKS) as a proxy for Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), because the communications chip designer is riding the coattails of every iPhone and 3G iPad. It's a sensible strategy for investors who want all the goodies of Apple's business without the risks of investing in the cult of Steve Jobs.

But Skyworks is actually better than just an alternative to Apple. The stock has jumped by 120% over the past 12 months, running neck-and-neck with my own favorite tech stock for 2010, Tibco Software, and far ahead of Apple itself, thanks to a broad portfolio of outperforming products.

The just-reported fourth quarter saw sales soaring by 37% year-over-year. Non-GAAP earnings jumped from $0.24 per share to $0.43 per share. Investors had expected a great report, so the market largely took the news in stride by boosting share prices by about 1% on a generally flat market day.

Management gave credit for the strong performance to its diversified strategy and backed it up by shining the spotlight on a number of market opportunities in the pipeline:

  • A close partnership with Broadcom (Nasdaq: BRCM) is putting Skyworks chips inside everything from Blu-ray players and gaming consoles to smartphones and notebooks.
  • Motorola (NYSE: MOT) is using the company's products in head-end distribution systems, meaning the master connection where the cable company receives and redistributes its TV signals.
  • Staying within the broadcasting market, Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO) likes Skyworks' solutions inside its fiber-based distribution systems and set-top boxes.

As you can see, Skyworks hardly lives and dies by Apple alone. That might be a weakness as long as the Cupertino gang is doing alright, but it never hurts to be prepared for a downturn.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. The Fool has written calls (bull call spread) on Cisco Systems. The Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.