Applied Materials (Nasdaq: AMAT) may not be as exciting as its smaller rivals and nowhere near the thrill ride of its end-market customers. But what the company lacks in excitement, it makes up for in stability.

The customer list of Applied Materials reads like a who's who of the tech industry, including memory chip wrangler Micron Technology (NYSE: MU) and hard drive builder Seagate Technology (Nasdaq: STX), processor giant Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) and its sworn nemesis Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD), and a whole raft of Chinese solar panel builders. That's what you get for selling equipment and materials that go into the making of anything semiconductor-based as Applied does, from solar cells to microprocessors.

That impressive diversity means that the company is less affected by strength or weakness in any single market. At the moment, that means slow sales from LCD screen builders weighing down strong business from the solar industry and memory builders -- or the other way around, depending on your point of view.

All in all, Applied Materials reported 89% sales growth year-over-year at $2.9 billion. Earnings more than tripled to $0.35 per share, and orders are coming in faster than the company can ship them. The company is taking market share from its rivals and is particularly strong in the Chinese solar panel business, which "bodes well for our business" in the words of CEO Mike Splinter.

So Applied Materials isn't as exciting as smaller rivals KLA-Tencor (Nasdaq: KLAC) or Lam Research (Nasdaq: LRCX), but its stock is arguably cheaper in return, you'll save on the antacids required to own the more volatile stocks, and Applied even pays a generous dividend.

Some say that's boring; others see admirable stability. Where do you stand? Share your thoughts on Applied Materials in the comments below.

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