You may know Cypress Semiconductor
But there's a lot more to Cypress.
But wait, there's more!
Speaking at last week's Needham & Company Growth Conference, Cypress CFO Brad Buss took great pains to highlight that simple fact.
For one, the balance sheet and income statement gain some stability from the leading position Cypress holds in the aging SRAM industry. Hardly exciting stuff, but worth taking into consideration.
If you want excitement, you're better off looking at the company's programmable system-on-a-chip (PSoC) products. With chip designs partly defined by the software you use to manage them, these infinitely malleable processors open entirely new system design options.
Buss compared the architecture to Lego blocks: "I could each give you 100 Legos and you'll all make something different. It's the same thing with this chip. There are thousands of people using this, there are seven or eight different units that we sell and that's it."
He explained that two new series of PSoC chips are expanding Cypress' addressable market something fierce. The first generation of PSoC chips, known as PSoC 1, isn't very powerful -- "you could blink the lights in a server." But PSoC 3, which is based on an 8-bit microcontroller architecture from Intel
"High-end system management control, industrial motor control, medical quality we could not do. We're now doing it in 3 and 5," says Buss. "We've had implementations where 20 or 30 different chips go away and get replaced by one PSoC." Back when Cypress was simply a leading SRAM manufacturer, it could address the needs of a $1 billion market. The new chips have 15 times that market space to play with.
A unique value
It's the programmable quality of Cypress SoCs that make them unique. Without that ingredient, device builders can pick their microcontroller from a range of competitors including industry giants Texas Instruments
That PSoC prowess also feeds the touchscreen success at Cypress. The basic CapSense and high-end TrueTouch controllers are both based on PSoC technology which gives them a tantalizing blend of power, flexibility, and bug-fixing options.
From zero to 25 in two years
Cypress has gone from zero exposure to the handset market two years ago to getting as much as 25% of its revenue from that market in 2011. It started with simple button replacements, continued with single-touch screen controllers and then onto multi-touch screens. The company history mirrors how Cypress can lead a customer from simple to complex solutions in a step-by-step process -- all thanks to the reprogrammable quality of the chips.
Beyond that, Cypress sees mobile gadgetry as just the first step into a touch-enabled world. "Printers and remote controls are probably the two ugliest devices known to man, they're all going to get totally revamped," Buss says. "You've got cars, industrial, medical, and even consumer. I mean quite frankly, if things haven't been a 1 million unit opportunity we haven't even had time to look at them."
What do we do?
If all that potential growth in the years ahead isn't enough to get you excited about Cypress, let me add some fuel to the fire. It's a five-star CAPS stock with a 96% approval rating among your fellow investors. My "outperform" pick on the stock, started last summer, is beating the market by 71 percentage points so far. Cypress has also doubled since it was recommended by our Rule Breakers team. And the company is selling into an everwidening range of rapidly expanding markets.
What's not to love? Add Cypress Semiconductor to your Foolish watchlist.
Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Intel is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Cypress Semiconductor is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. The Fool has written puts on Apple. The Fool owns shares of and has bought calls on Intel. Motley Fool Options has recommended buying calls on Intel. The Fool owns shares of Apple and Texas Instruments. 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.