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TriQuint Semiconductor Inc (NASDAQ:TQNT)

Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2012 Technology Conference Call

May 8, 2012 2:45 pm ET

Executives

Ralph Quinsey – President and Chief Executive Officer

Analyst

Vivek Arya – Bank of America/Merrill Lynch

Vivek Arya – Bank of America/Merrill Lynch

I am Vivek Arya from the Bank of America Semiconductor Research team, and I am delighted to introduce Ralph Quinsey, the CEO of TriQuint Semiconductor, he is joined by Roger Rowe from TriQuint’s Investor Relations team. And what I think we will do is, Ralph will make some opening comments and then we will turn it over to Q&A. So with that Ralph, welcome.

Ralph Quinsey

Thank you, Vivek. We originally had a presentation, so we will be do this freeform; I will be making some forward-looking statements. Some of those statements maybe materially different from reality. Please check our SEC filings.

If I can leave you one message, before we get into the Q&A, is that, this market, the market that TriQuint deals in, which the radio frequency semiconductor market, is a growing market. We are seeing significant content expansion in transition from voice-only phones to smartphones. And we are seeing increased complexity in RF spectrum; an increased RF complexity is good for our business.

Well we got the presentation now. So a $7 billion market, driven largely by RF complexity, what differentiates TriQuint from some of our competitors is that we have a broader technology offering to that market than many of our competitors and by that I mean both active and passive devices. And on the passive side, BAW filter technology as well as SAW technology, and as we expand into 3G and 4G in this crowded spectrum, that filtering technology becomes a very critical part of solution.

And then lastly, financial leverage; we spend a good sum of money in 2011, putting a capacity footprint in our factories to grow at this market, and now we see good follow through about 50% follow through on continued revenue growth.

If you look at our major markets, most investors are interested in the mobile devices market. It’s about 65% to 70% of our revenue and it’s about 65% of market and there is a lot activity, and a lot of interest in new appliances that come out in the mobile devices market, and much of the content expansion I’ve talked about you see in mobile devices.

Additionally, we have great businesses in base station, transport and defense and I will give you some more detail about 30% of our revenue comes from those market, and our group base stations, transport, defense into a category more like an analog business, high margin, slower growth, long product life cycles, very sticky business and TriQuint differentiates itself in this market, in these markets by just having great products, high performance products.

Looking first at mobile devices, above 6 billion TAM again fast growing market expansion from voice-only phones to the smartphones, TriQuint has good penetration with all the major suppliers and we are known as an integration leader primarily putting filters and active components together. Where we address the market is in the interface Connection, so whether it’s 2G, 3G, 4G, wireless LAN that amplification, and the filtering of the signal in the interface is the products that TriQuint sells to our customers.

One area that we think is really got good growth opportunities going forward is wireless LAN. With the majority of our wireless LAN business right now is tied to the smartphone business, we see that continuing to grow as wireless LANs is a must have options for smartphones, but also expanding into in-home applications with (inaudible) see really targeting high performance streaming video.

I’ve mentioned the smartphone drivers probably do in the range of 600 plus million smartphones this year growing to 800 million plus next year has been growing at a 67% rate coming down to growing slower 40% going forward maybe 30%, two years out maybe 20%, but still a high growth market probably cross 50% penetration within the next 12 to 18 months and you will see the next wave of smartphone activity in the mid-to-low tier as it displaces our voice-only phones.

And again the added bands of 3G and 4G, take the content from voice-only phone, less than a $1, up to $6, $7, $8, $9, $10 depending upon the configuration, and the complexity of the phone. Just some quick charts show that the transition is from discretes to integration, where the integration is in MMPAs and kind of duplexer modules or PA duplexers, TriQuint participates in both of those markets; MMPAs being one of our faster growing products right now, and PA duplexer is one of our highest volume products right now.

And we see that the, the last thing four-band market more of a regional mid-tier phone is more incline to see integration through PA-Duplexers and Transmit Modules were the higher banded phones tend to lean towards MMPAs and Antenna Diplexer modules. TriQuint been a integration leader this is a example of one of our fastest growing products right now are QUANTUM Tx modules, growing with customers like Samsung focus on transmit modules in 3G and LTE applications.

And then here is another example of integration were TriQuint has been a leader of just taking a lot of devices whether it would be filters discretes, (inaudible) components and put it into small packages, this represents our dual products. And as I mentioned the opportunities going forward from the smartphone expansion is the expansion to other consumer appliances for communication, and then the expansion to machine-to-machine notes.

Some of our customers planned in the timeframe of 215, 216 having to serve 50 billion connected notes on the planet, so we see that again as a long-term growing opportunity for RF content expansion. Switching now to the base station, base station markets is smaller part of the market above a 1.5 billion TAM, where we add value here is in high performance solutions typically high efficiency, greener base stations, higher linearity better bit air rate, and then just the integration capability in multi-chip products.

Some of the trends that we see in base station that are driving growth are the build out of LTE particularly in this country, and in China, and then transition to small cells which will give better coverage in urban environments and increase the volume of base stations, and they take a large base stations shrink it down to a smaller unit with a smaller RF footprint, and you can put it into crowded areas within urban environments to get better coverage, or TriQuint has been a leader is in that MCM or multi-chip module integration.

Then moving to the transport market, a wide variety of customers in this market, again highly focused on performance and differentiation through performance typically in this market, we have a high share position where we play includes optical, cable, point-to-point radio and VSAT our satellite communications.

I want to highlight, one particular area in the optical area, as we see just a tremendous growth in data traffic, with more units through mobile connectivity with internet, online and more streaming content whether it would be voice data or video, just increasing a load on city-to-city and metro ring, that’s an area where we play with our high performance modules, it’s electronics that drive the Photonics in the solution. These modules sell for hundreds of dollars and very high performance in their submarket.

So a little bit of an overview, you can see our particular multi-chip solution in the upper right that’s cover on top, the smaller picture has to cover on it, and addressing a 100-gig, 40-gig and 10-gigabit performance, really great performance low jet are low power consumption, in a very high voltage swing for the application, and the graphic below you can see, telecom moving towards the users. We are seeing high-speed requirements, which typically start out in long haul city-to-city moving upstream towards the consumer, as the requirements for existing fiber data communication requirements in bandwidth is going up.

So that’s a good thing for TriQuint and our products. Just looking at the overall transport applications, again about a $0.5 billion TAM overall optical cable and millimeter wave broken out, as you can see on the chart. And then lastly, defense, we’ve got a strong presence in the defense industry, it’s about a $0.5 billion market for us. We address all the major players in the defense industry, largely with again radiofrequency type solutions whether they’d be radar related or communications related. We are a trusted foundry and a key part of the innovation chain in the defense industry, both in this country and worldwide.

Some of the drivers as I mentioned our network communication whether it’d terrestrial or space to space or flight system to flight system, electronic warfare and then ISR, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance system, largely driven by radar and airborne radar is our biggest market. We also attract quite a bit of funding, for just fund the metal materials development last year about $15 million from DARPA, ONR or the air force labs.

And this year expected to be closer to about $20 million and that allows us to invest in next generation technologies. Most of this funding is available to allow the technologies to move to the commercial market and we see good benefit in synergies with technology development in this market, eventually moving into the commercial market.

And then quickly some financial highlights; we have completed our six consecutive record revenue growth years, five year compound annual revenue growth rate of about 17% and within mobile device is about 25%. So we have been on a share. Unfortunately, we grew much faster than we expected, coming out of 2009 going into 2010.

2009, we were one of the handful semiconductor companies that grew sequentially year-over-year, planned for about 25% growth rate in 2010 and actually mobile devices grow much faster than that. And we did reach our limits of capacity to full extent.

2011 was investment year. We believe in this market, we believe in our products and technologies and we believe we can get back on that growth rate and the footprint is now in place that gives us good financial leverage to support that type of growth.

Here is a quick P&L; about 217 (inaudible) in Q1. Q2 is a down quarter, largely due to our largest customer, Foxconn, short-term down we expect that revenue stream to come back up and also increase legal expenses in the quarter. And so as I look forward to the back half of 2012, I don’t see a significant change in our concentration of revenue and expect the back half of 2012 to be better than the Q2 short-term issue really indicate. Higher utilization, its good fall through 50% and better performance in the bottom line.

Strong balance sheet; we got about $195 million in cash, no debt, $200 million untapped line of credit and in the last few days, we’ve authorized $50 million one-year stock repurchase program.

So in summary, great exposure to high growth markets and in particularly smartphones and tablets and the content expansion associated with that. We believe we are the industry’s broadest technology portfolio, within mobile devices to cover the next generation of problems associated with the complexity in the RF spectrum and outside of mobile devices in our networks, defense and aerospace markets just the benchmark technology to service those high performance needs.

Revenue growth as I said creates significant financial leverage for us. We prove that successfully in the five years leading up to 2011. We’ve reset our capacity footprint. We believe that will be a strategic advantage for us going forward. Going forward for our high volume customers they look at both the product capability and the ability of the company to manage a fast ramp and so we believe that’s going to be a critical piece of continued growth in this market, and be able to have control and good visibility on capacity and supporting fast ramps.

And so we are very comfortable with our position going forward and of course of strong balance sheet.

So with that I will have a seat Vivek?

Vivek Arya – Bank of America/Merrill Lynch

Thank you, Ralph. Thanks for the overview. May be I will kick it off with question. So I think TriQuint investors understand, the severe growth market that you have very strong unit growth in smartphones and tablets, that there is also a content expansion story here as you move from 2G to 3G to 4G, but there is a concern expressed is that you have one or two very large customers in the market whose product transition often lead to a lot of volatility.

You also have a situation where you have three or four suppliers essentially going after the same three or four customers, and that you do have some excess capacity, sort of RFMD as an example, so is your sector structurally set up for long-term profitable performance?

Ralph Quinsey

Absolutely, I think that the profitability of the aerospace is probably got a more of a tailwind than a headwind, but I do recognize that we’re going through a transition, in the handsets space, we are seeing consolidation around a couple of strong player. And that is creating a concentration on revenue issue for the industry. And I think TriQuint really is the far end of that with our lead customer Foxconn at 37% of revenue.

So we see the effects of that, but I do believe that is at least for the foreseeable future, that is a trend line. I believe having strategic capacity in place, actually we will turn out to be a benefit in that regard because with that type of concentration on revenue customers like Samsung want to make sure that they can be supported, and we work very closely with Samsung and value them as a customer.

Growing customers like HTC, ZTE and Huawei they certainly want to make sure that they’re going to be able to be supported by their supplier. So I feel comfortable with that. As far as going forward and looking at the profitability of the RF space, we recently announced the transition to in the filter side of our business to Wafer Level Packaging and this specialty filters largely brought TC-SAW in some cases SAW build that really are difficult solutions and very few suppliers can offer solutions and so we see better opportunities to maximize our margins by focusing on those space. And we think that we have a unique proposition now with Wafer Level Packaging which gives us shorter cycle price, much long size and much lower material cost for those filters.

And the fact that we can mix and match TC-SAW, SAW and BAW to allow optimized solution and link that with our active components whether it would be gas or SOI for switches to really offer performance based solutions so we’re encourage about that but I understand that’s going to take few more quarters to roll all that out.

Vivek Arya – Bank of America/Merrill Lynch

Now on the recent call you did mention because of the product transition issue, that revenues would be down. As we look at the second half, how you convince it’s not a share loss issue that this is really just a product transition enhance a temporary issue?

Ralph Quinsey

Yeah, and I would love to be more specific but with some customers I do have non-disclosure agreements which limit my ability to comment but I can’t say that I don’t expect our concentration revenue to significantly change between now in the second half of the year and I feel comfortable with the design wins in place that we will be, we will have a successful second half of 2012 and I feel we’re well positioned for 2013.

Vivek Arya – Bank of America/Merrill Lynch

Got it, one thing that has always as – I started as I covered your company that, your technology proves has never been an issue right for your largest customer to stay with you for such a long period of time even though they’ve – we have seen volatility in some of their other RF customers, I think is a very strong testament to the quality of your technology, how did you look at the issue of customer diversification, I think you mentioned Samsung, you mentioned HTC, what will it take for them to become more significant customers, if technology is not the issue, what stands in the way of them becoming a more important customer?

Ralph Quinsey

Good question and couple of three points, I want to make on that, first of all if you take a – If you look at just the recent quarters, if you take our largest customers Foxconn out of the picture and you take wireless LAN out of the picture. We’re just talking about our core mobile devices cellular business that actually grew 8%, sequentially in Q1 which is normally a down quarter, so I think is good indication that we are now again getting traction on our customers outside of our largest customer.

Excuse me. And secondly when we go to the market place, we love the fact that we’re supporting Foxconn and we hope to continue to support them for a long-long time, we think we have the right products, the right relationships in place and we would like to continue to support them.

But their demand has been growing quite significantly and it’s been a challenge to keep up. We now put in a capacity footprint that allows us to support all of our customers in an appropriate fashion and like I said I think that as we progress over the next six to 18 months that can increasingly become viewed as a wise decision. Still I have to have the products in place, still I – great technologies, still have to execute.

So all the caveats are in play, I’m confident that TriQuint can execute well. But I see the capacity situation again, 50% (inaudible) financially and we can now – the capacity is for sell basis, probably a 350 a quarter install based, but what’s more important is that we got the footprint that we can cost effectively expand that even beyond that over the next five years.

Vivek Arya – Bank of America/Merrill Lynch

One interesting statistics right after Q1 was that the number of mobile subscribers in China operate over the – there are more than a billion mobile subscribers now in China. So what is your China mobile strategy especially as you look in the context of a number of local supplies there, right the fact that the price of products there is going to be more towards the lower end off the market. So what is the overall strategy there?

Ralph Quinsey

Yeah the overall strategy in China is certainly to support our global customers who support China and locally in China we tend to not aggressively pursue the white box market and target more the companies like ZTE and Huawei. We have long relationship with both ZTE and Huawei, ZTE we were RF supply via four years in a row. We did – as we worked with those two particular customers the business was more focused on the 2G market before we ran into a capacity limitation and the data card.

We are seeing some softness in both of those markets for 2G and the data cards and so we are taking this opportunity to transition with those customers into their 3G application and I feel so we can grow with those customers this year based on the strength of our transfer modules and linear amplifiers and our new products going forward, MMPAs

Duals and the like.

We are also combined with some fairly good success with Huawei and ZTE around our base station market as we’ve introduced and have announced some products over the last couple of quarters VGAs, MCMs et cetera that we put a focus on the infrastructure types of market. There’s a good opportunity there. And we’re finding that both those customers are really attracted to a supplier that can give them that broad base type of RF support, whether it would be mobile devices, infrastructure, optical. Huawei is one of our largest customers on the optical side, very broad base support. Both of those companies are trying to be end-to-end communications and we support end-to-end RF.

Vivek Arya – Bank of America/Merrill Lynch

Got it. Pause for a moment and see if there are any questions from the audience. Yes.

Question-and-Answer Session

Unidentified Analyst

And I just want to follow-up on the very last question on the China market, and particularly you said the low end market. Has there been new entrance in that market that have impacted pricing in your business somewhat lower end entrance into the China market?

Ralph Quinsey

From an RF perspective?

Unidentified Analyst

Yeah.

Ralph Quinsey

Yeah, I would say certainly yes.

Unidentified Analyst

Okay.

Ralph Quinsey

So if you look at that white box market is typically lower performance phones and lower performance RF. It is a shrinking market. Maybe in the range of worldwide there maybe 600 million GSM phone and that’s going down. And we’re seeing companies like RDA and also some CMOS providers selling into that market. So that market is typically, I guess a lower performance voice-only phones.

Unidentified Analyst

So you aren’t seeing those guys being able to move into line of smartphone market. You think there is going to be widening gap there.

Ralph Quinsey

If you look at the transition with smartphone market, and because of the RF complexity [socially] with that, the same things don’t apply. And when you fold in the filtering components associated with it and some of the architectures, I don’t see the same pressure on the 3G market.

Unidentified Analyst

Okay. And then, second question and just came up in, I think the MediaTek conference call as well as you talked about a surprising pickup in ad smartphones and again, this is the same chipset. It’s basically the 3G chip. So it’s the same multimedia experience, but they are seeing a strong pickup and people wanting to (inaudible) without the 3G component because they can save money on. They’ll take your royalties and components. I’m wondering how much on the analog side and power, how much is their savings and going basically, and not doing 3G and doing ads, and is this something that would be a concern to you as well?

Ralph Quinsey

And so, if I understand the question correctly, when you think of a comparative 3G phone, are you talking about having a smartphone that has no database, just EDGE or are you referring to…

Unidentified Analyst

And Wi-Fi. Yeah, so it’s very popular, I mean, basically putting Wi-Fi companionship within an integrated application processor where you’ve just flipped off the 3G and you are running EDGE on it. So take quite a bit of money, I think from a handset because if you can say 5%, 6% royalty to Qualcomm, that’s margin that you get.

Ralph Quinsey

So I would say that the experience, the Internet connectivity experience, EDGE-only would be pretty disciplined.

Unidentified Analyst

There is Wi-Fi.

Ralph Quinsey

There is Wi-Fi, right. I would say that if I look at that from a worldwide perspective, 1.6 billion phones, maybe 600 million smartphones, that opportunity would be small quite small compared to those numbers, just my perspective. But I thought you’re going in different direction with the some phones that you say using EDGE or using WGPRS or GSM, if you will, as far as the uplink it’s non-symmetrical kind of folded EDGE down GPRS.

I do see quite a bit of volume opportunities there, particularly in developing countries. There are some cost advantages to the manufacture in that case and there is also some infrastructure advantages and we are enjoying quite a bit of volume on that particular products that are 9069 transmit module. Again, I thought that’s where you are going with the question, and I do think there will be a good market for those type of phones.

Unidentified Analyst

Yeah. And India has been an area of growth for the EDGE product as well. And also I just [look around] figure out how much savings these handset companies are actually on your part of the business, how much they are actually saving in their power management and analog side by effectively not having a 3G? Is it a big savings you think on the content finder?

Ralph Quinsey

Well, again if you just want to do it [ahead of a] phone, voice-only phone, dual band, 2G phone, right, it’s less than $1, total content. For every 3G band just in simple numbers add $1. For Wi-Fi add $0.50, $0.60. For every LTE band, again just to make it easy, add $1. It’s not just the amplifier.

That’s the complete line up. So includes filtering and amplification. And just to make life simple in a 3G call the $1 half amplifier, half filter right now. So $0.50 each, just round numbers. If you’re seeing quickly as you get into a voice phone that has 4G, 5G, 3G bands and then you’re going to typically add two LTE bands per region, so voice phones are going to have 4G, 5G.

That’s how you get up to this $6, $7, $8, $9, $10 type of phone. I think there is going to be, you’ll see more phones that are regional and you will see the transition more from voice to $4 or $5 as oppose to these very high-end phones, but still great expanding opportunity in RF content on phones, as we’re continuing. So we’ll pass the 50% penetration in the next 12 months to 18 months on smartphones.

Unidentified Analyst

So last year, there were about 400 million to 450 million smartphone sold and I think LTE volume was about $6 million or $8 million. This year’s expectation is 600 million plus smartphones and LTE expectations are under tens of millions of units. But every RF vendor claims to have very large market share as of the Skyworks or RFMD. So can you help us set the record right, how big do you see that LTE opportunity this year, for you what is your market share, how do you differentiate versus all these other guys?

Ralph Quinsey

Again when you talk about LTE, they’re talking about share of LTE phones or share of LTE sockets and size of those markets. I agree with your numbers that the LTE phone last year and this year are relatively low. It is great and expanding opportunity, more of a 2013, 2014 play in dollar content.

And then just to quantify, again my add-up is the voice. Every LTE phone, every 4G phone is also a 3G phone, is also a 2G phone and so it’s additive. And, as I said, depending upon the phone’s architecture and depending upon the number of bands covered, the LTE ad could be a couple of dollars or could be $5 to $6 to $7. It depends upon the architecture of the phone.

Unidentified Analyst

And how do you see your relative market share? I know right now it is a small market, but every vendor has spoken about that has a major growth opportunity.

Ralph Quinsey

Yeah. So from a LTE phone perspective, one of our fastest growing opportunities this year is at Samsung, in their LET phones, right. And so I think we will have a significant play in Samsung and other large customers in their LTE phones. As far as the dollar content of the LTE function, it’s still really too small to even talk about market share.

Unidentified Analyst

Okay.

Unidentified Analyst

Hi. I wanted you to just clear up, I think those confusion in the analyst community coming out of the call about whether you were talking quarter-over-quarter growth picking up back in the second half of the year or you’re talking year-over-year growth? And that kind of [fills] in a little bit the question you just answered about customer concentration remaining the same, maybe that as of Q2, which is very different from Q1. So is the Q1 customer concentration remains there or Q2 customer concentration remain the same?

Ralph Quinsey

Yeah. So just to be clear in there, being cautious because I’m trying not to guide for Q3, but I expect our customer concentration in the second half of the year to the very similar to our Q1 customer concentration and I do expect that Q2 is a discontinuity going down. I do expect it to come back up in Q3 to what I called normal levels. I haven’t defined normal.

Unidentified Analyst

You recently initiated $50 million of stock buyback program. Anything specific that triggered that, anything on evaluation perspective, anything specific that you saw?

Ralph Quinsey

Yes. We just did is $250 million one-year buyback program and the drivers for that were, we feel comfortable with our cash position, about $195 million in cash and our investment in capacity period, our large investment capacity period is behind us. We feel like the stock is a great buy right now. And so we’re delighted to take some shares off the table and [like a secret buyer] we wanted so signal some confidence in the investor base and we feel strongly about the growth of the company going forward.

Unidentified Analyst

[Did you do] a lack of capacity in 2010 and the beginning part of 2011, led the supply chain to perhaps carry a little bit more inventory than they would have normally? Just trying to kind of piece things together here.

Ralph Quinsey

Yeah, so I would say that possibly, but that is a day that’s behind us. I don’t think that’s a current issue. Certainly, when we had constraints, lead times stretched out, right and there was some conservative buying, but I think that’s largely played out now.

Unidentified Analyst

Largely played out including what’s going on in Q2 or has played out prior to that?

Ralph Quinsey

I would say that our particular situation had a little impact to the Q2 of that. Okay.

Unidentified Analyst

So do you think what we are seeing in Q2, is that something that could be come up sort of annual event as product transitions occur or what about this year, makes this year an unique year, were those [swamping] a recurring event?

Ralph Quinsey

Right. It’s a great question, and I really can’t speculate on what’s going to happen going forward. I can step back, and again just from a broader perspective and comment that as the market becomes more consolidated from a handset perspective, I think you’re going to see wider swings in demand. It’s just the nature of the business. And certainly we’ve been in this business long time, some of us and we’ve seen these type of events in the past as far as iconic type of products driving demand swings in the marketplace.

Operator

Just maybe one last question, actually there is another question here in the front.

Vivek Arya – Bank of America/Merrill Lynch

Ralph, could you talk a little bit about growth margins, I mean you look at some of your primary competitors like Skyworks, for example, I mean they haven’t had the same gross margin volatility that you guys have had through a downturn. I mean, what are some of the things that you could do strategically to ensure that the next time you go through like a downturn like this with a 20%, 30% sales decline that you don’t have the big fluctuation in margin?

Ralph Quinsey

Yeah, so, great question. I would say that utilization is the biggest driver of margin improvement for us going forward. I would add secondarily, you’re going to see us transition to a better mix of products with some of the strategic changes that we’ve talked about in the second half of this year.

So a better mix of products from a margin perspective in mobile devices. And [so much as] there’s any kind of recovery, it looks like we are cautiously optimistic about the network’s infrastructure recovery right now. There’s so much as we can get that business growing in the macro event turn into a tailwind or the headwind. That certainly is very accretive from a margin perspective.

We get a 50% fall through and leverage on that. Our sensitivity to demand swings going forward is something that I’m thinking about is what’s the best way to do that, we tend to outsource all of our assembly and make that variable and in source most of our wafer and make that more fixed certainly I think there is opportunity there, part of that is going to happen naturally as we go through a transition to SOI, for – I believe SOI would displace the PM switches overtime.

So I think you’re going to see is to get into more balance other than that, I haven’t formulated more aggressive plan other than just good aggressive growth to mitigate margin pressure.

Vivek Arya – Bank of America/Merrill Lynch

Okay. I think with that we are at the end of our allotted schedule, thank you very much. Thanks for the time. Very appreciate the discussions.

Ralph Quinsey

Yeah, thanks

Vivek Arya – Bank of America/Merrill Lynch

Yeah, thanks everyone.

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