4 Chips Stocks Poised To Surge Ahead Of Apple's Earnings Report

by: Richard Saintvilus

As technology giant Apple (AAPL) is gearing up to report its Q2 FY12 earnings on April 24, I have also begun to shop ahead for stocks that stand to benefit from any possible upward surprises. Thanks to a recent study by research firm iSuppli, I think by now investors know which stocks these are because Apple's popularity has recently placed them in the spotlight -- or "halo light," if you will. Apple appears poised to extend what I can only describe as irrationality when it comes to the numbers that are expected, and more remarkable is that it continues to beat them by a wide margin. The question is: How can we own Apple without really spending Apple-money? In this article, we are going to look at a list of names that are poised to surge ahead of Apple's report -- and possibly after.

Qualcomm (QCOM)

The first name that jumped out at me was chip giant Qualcomm, as it has been a core holding of mine for quite some time until recently. I have always valued Qualcomm, among several other chips, because where Apple presents a $600 price tag for each share, some of the other names that make up its product may be a tad more appealing to investors as Apple's high price may not be that appealing. However, iSuppli also mentioned Cirrus Logic (CRUS) and TriQuint Semiconductor (TQNT), two lesser known names with possible significant upside potential over the course of the next six to 12 months.

Qualcomm has a tremendous business in a fast-growing industry. Furthermore, as evidenced by the results in its latest quarter, it is clear that management knows exactly what it is doing and should be able to sustain that level of performance. The question for investors is: What is the right entry point for the stock, seeing as it keeps reaching new 52-week highs? Given that analysts continue to feel there is at least 26% more room to the upside, this should bring some comfort to investors willing to hold for the long term -- 12 to 24 months.

ARM Holdings (ARMH)

Another name investors might want to consider is chip technology giant ARM Holdings. Not only has this once unknown company come out of nowhere to take a chunk out of Intel's (INTC) market share, but it has also forged huge deals with Microsoft (MSFT) for use of its chip technology in the upcoming release of Windows 8. Furthermore, it is widely known that PCs are losing share while smartphones and tablets are becoming more ubiquitous in both the consumer and corporate environments. So for ARM Holdings, it has the "best of three worlds" as its technology is essential to Windows, tablets, and smartphone devices.

TriQuint Semiconductor (TQNT)

If the name TriQuint does not immediately ring a bell, investors need to understand that it has long been a staple and partner of several Apple products -- including the iPad and various iterations of the iPhone. In fact, Apple is TriQuint's biggest customer. This can be both a pro and a con, depending on whether you are a glass half-full or half-empty person. In the company's annual report, it disclosed that of its approximately $900 million in annual revenue, Apple accounted for 35% of that number -- which was up 10% since 2010. So the question is: Is now a good time to consider TriQuint for a long position?

That answer has to be yes. The stock is up 33% on the year so far and is still more than 50% away from its 52-week high. But one of the considerations investors must factor in is the fact that it sports a P/E of 23, which is not cheap by most standards. But then again, in an industry where it competes with other chips such as Nvidia (NVDA) and ARM Holdings, high P/Es are often the norm. By contrast, Qualcomm -- as much as I love the stock -- has a P/E of 25 and is currently trading at its 52-week high.

Atmel (ATML)

Yet another name to add to the mix is Atmel. While it does not have the advantage of being in Apple products to the extent that the other names above have, it has become ubiquitous in smartphones and mobile devices just like ARM Holdings. From a fundamental perspective, the stock is a steal at current levels from the standpoint that it is trading below its book value. Atmel is gaining share in several other products as well, especially in the gadget market with its line of maXTouch controllers. Those basically run the touchscreen interfaces on several devices from Nokia (NOK), Google (GOOG), and, to a lesser extent, HTC.

What makes Atmel a tad more attractive than its peers is that it also competes in a wide variety of different markets in the chip industry -- or, more specifically, the non-mobile device market. Atmel's products include microcontrollers, programmable logic devices, and a wide range of proprietary system-on-chips and non-volatile memory chips. The company manufactured about 93% of its own chips in 2007. The stock is now trading at just under $10 and should reach $15 by the end of the year. So even though it does not have the Apple leverage that a name like Qualcomm has, Atmel has the capability to make up for it with other aspects of its business.

Disclosure: I am long AAPL, INTC, MSFT, ATML.