Behold the famed Wall Street wall of worry. Some folks try to climb it, some folks try to ram it, and other folks try to pretend it's not there. Unfortunately, it's pretty much a fact of life for most tech companies like chipmaker OmniVision Technologies
In the past, there were concerns here about an SEC investigation, a sacrificing of margins for market share, the threat from competitors like Micron
Yet the stock still went up -- mostly because OmniVision's chips do work. Companies including Nokia
But that doesn't mean skeptics won't try to add a few new bricks to the wall of worry. Margins are still a little dicey, and now you can also add in chatter about a slowdown in the handset market -- yet it seems to me that somebody has been predicting that every year for at least five years running.
Nevertheless, OmniVision still appeared to deliver the goods in Q4. Revenue rose 28% over last year, dipping about 4% sequentially, though gross margins fell by 3.5 percentage points. On the gross margin front, it looks as though average selling prices fell about one-third from a year ago -- my notes indicate an ASP of $4.23 last year versus $2.72 this quarter.
Operating margins also fell this time around, dropping almost two full percentage points as operating income grew 18%. How you view this drop probably will have a great deal to do with your bias toward or against the stock, but I'll simply say that spending more money on research and development and on sales, general, and administrative expenses is often a fact of life for tech companies.
When it comes to the stock, I've frequently maintained that it was a big potential bargain if you believed that the story would develop along the lines that management forecast, though I always thought that the risks didn't justify it. And while the stock isn't so dramatically undervalued anymore, it's hardly expensive relative to the industry as a whole. It's still not really my cup of tea, but for now, OmniVision, like Nam Tai
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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).