While my Foolish dueling partner Ryan Fuhrmann focused on the anemic earnings numbers coming from Intel
|Year||Cash Flow from Operations||Y/Y Change|
Operating cash flow easily surpassed the 2000 peak Ryan was so concerned about in both 2004 and 2005. In a world where earnings are an opinion, but cash is a fact, I'd rather have anemic reported earnings hiding exceptionally strong operations than the opposite.
Prepare for the crash
I'll agree with Ryan that the semiconductor industry has boom, investment, and bust periods, and that it takes a huge level of investment to keep competitive. That's precisely why I'm an Intel shareholder! Tell me, which of the following semiconductor companies would you rather own when the going gets rough throughout the industry?
|Company||Cash & Equivalents||Net Margin|
Advanced Micro Devices
Maxim Integrated Products
As for me, I'd rather own the ones with the strongest cash positions and/or beefiest margins. Intel certainly outshines on the cash front, and it's in the top half of this list from a margin perspective, too. That improves its chances to emerge relatively intact from a cyclical downturn or prolonged industrywide pricing battle. The weaker companies may have their moment in the sun from time to time. But when push comes to shove and the going gets tough, I'd rather have my money invested somewhere with established staying power.