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If you don't think that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing
Always on the go
Look around you, on the street or in your office. How many mobile communication gadgets do you see? It's not just cell phones, though they do have a commanding pocket share. There are also navigation gizmos from TomTom and Garmin
All of these things -- some of the most powerful cultural undercurrents of the decade -- are driving TSMC's profits. Here's how.
Kick it down a notch
You could invest in all this growth by betting on each horse individually. But how do you distinguish the winners from the temporary fads, and how many picks are you willing to make?
Dig down a level -- this usually requires a screwdriver -- and you'll find that most of all those thingamabobs are built around chips from Texas Instruments
But wait -- there's more!
That brings us right to TSMC. The big boys in the semiconductor industry have moved away from building every chip on expensive in-house production lines. Instead, they outsource more and more of their manufacturing to foundries like this one. And TSMC stands head and shoulders above the rest. Last year, the company brought in $9.8 billion in sales; its next three competitors brought in only $6.4 billion -- combined.
That makes TSMC a perfect proxy for the burgeoning mobility market. And its net margins are stable in the mid-30% range, which is about twice that of the next most profitable foundry. The company generated $3 billion in free cash flow last year, and paid out $2.4 billion of that in regular dividends.
TSMC is a well-run market leader with shareholder-friendly management, working in a blossoming market sector, serving a global market out of the burgeoning Taiwanese economy. And all of this is riding along a well-known mobility wave that's notoriously tough to handle at the crest. Down here at the base, the opportunity makes a lot more sense.
TSMC could be the last, best hope for tech investors, and I think it will be tough to beat this combination of stability and opportunity in 2008. If you agree, you can swing on over to Motley Fool CAPS and let your opinion be known with a simple thumbs-up rating. While you're there, you can soak in the wisdom of 82,000 investors like you and me, and even contribute to CAPS' growing knowledge cache.
I saw the sign. How about you?
Garmin is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. If you believe in international investing, you should check out our Global Gains newsletter, too. You can have either or both for free with a 30-day trial subscription.
Fool contributor Anders Bylund is a TSMC shareholder, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like. Foolish disclosure follows you around the world like a well-mannered market concierge.