Shares of storage, networking, and wireless chipmaker Marvell (MRVL -3.13%) have performed poorly year-to-date, with the stock dropping a little over 9% against the PHLX Semiconductor Sector Index ETF which has declined a little under one percent in that time.
Some people, like Goldman Sachs analyst Mark Delaney, think that much of the negativity surrounding the stock has already been factored into pricing. With that in mind, let's take a look at three catalysts that could cause shares of Marvell to rise.
A second half of the year PC recovery
A large part of Marvell's business is tied to the sale of controllers into PC-bound storage devices such as hard disk drives as well as solid state drives. It is widely believed that the first half of 2015 has been weak for PC sales and more importantly to Marvell, PC builds, as vendors try to "burn off" older inventory ahead of the Windows 10 operating system launch.
If the PC market sees a recovery during the second half of the year, fueled by the new operating system as well as new PC hardware platforms, then Marvell could benefit nicely, providing a boost to its shares.
Wind-down or sale of the cellular baseband business
The company has also been competing in the market for cellular modems and applications processors for quite some time. Although many competitors have exited this market, Marvell continues to press on, despite what appears to be a widespread sentiment that the company should simply "get out."
According to analysts with UBS, the cellular baseband and applications processor business is losing about $240 million per year, which is good for a $0.40 per share impact. If Marvell could put an end to these large losses, the analysts believe that Marvell could see a significant boost to the bottom line.
Whether Marvell management will ultimately shut down or sell the business is still unknown, but if it were to make the exit, I agree that the stock would trade up on the news.
A shift toward hybrid hard disk/solid state drives in PCs
Marvell currently designs and sells controller chips for both hard disk drives as well as solid state drives. However, the company faces just one major competitor in hard disk drive controllers but many in the solid state drive controller market.
On the most recent earnings call, CEO Sehat Sutardja played up its next-generation "hybrid" hard disk drive/solid state drive technology. Sutardja did acknowledge that earlier generation hybrid drives saw "lukewarm" market acceptance, pointing the finger at the fact that early hybrid drives offered performance that was more in-line with much slower hard disk drives than higher performance solid state drives.
The new technology, Sutardja claims, offers performance that is virtually indistinguishable from a solid state drive. Furthermore, Sutardja said that using the company's new FLC technology, a one terabyte hybrid drive can be built at a cost of $40, while an equivalent all-flash solid state drive costs $300.
Any potential impact from this technology will not be seen in the near-term, though. According to Sutardja, Marvell is "actively promoting" this technology to its customers (likely the hard disk drive vendors), and the company expects "first production" to make it into the hands of customers "early next year."
We will have to see if things end up being "different this time" with respect to hybrid drives, but if Marvell technology delivers on these bold promises, it is yet another lever for the company to drive long-term growth.