It's an old business maxim -- we'll sell our products for less and make up the difference with volume. Sometimes it works out, but a lot of times you just start a price war that hurts everybody (see also: the ongoing printer wars). The Chinese electronics assembler Nam Tai (NYSE:NTE), though, appears to have figured out how to make it work.

Sales in the second quarter were up more than 25% on higher sales of the company's cell phone components and assemblies. As I've discussed in the past, though, this move toward greater reliance on components and assemblies comes at a cost -- the cost of margins. Gross and operating profits were up only 7% as the company saw year-over-year declines in its margins.

That said, Nam Tai did post very respectable sequential margin improvements. So the company has ratcheted down to a different sort of business model, but management is still squeezing a lot out of the business.

Although the company has continued to announce new wins for products such as scanner pens, LCD modules, and consumer goods like the Sony (NYSE:SNE) EyeToy for the PlayStation2, this is still basically a cell-phone company. Telecom components and assemblies were 70% of revenue in the quarter -- up from 59% a year ago -- and the consumer electronics business has shrunk to nearly 20%.

I have a hard time criticizing Nam Tai management for this ongoing shift toward cell phone assemblies while it's still working so well. Nevertheless, I would just like to see a more balanced type of business. After all, a good global cell-phone market hasn't guaranteed stock-market success recently for Nokia (NYSE:NOK) or OmniVision Technologies (NASDAQ:OVTI). It's probably not especially likely that the global cell-phone business would just collapse (it seems that everybody wants to upgrade when new models come out), but you never know when a slowdown could hit.

Not many growing tech plays pay a dividend, let alone as high a dividend as Nam Tai. What's more, present valuations would seem to ignore Nam Tai's superiority in margins and current growth versus comparable companies. Perhaps Nam Tai should get some discount for being so dependent upon cell phones, but present prices still seem to be overdoing it.

For more on Nam Tai and other contract manufacturers:

Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).