Texas Instruments Predicts Strong Demand

Texas Instruments on Monday posted a quarterly profit at the top end of its target range and the chipmaker said there was strong demand in all its product areas and markets including Europe and the Americas.

But the company’s shares fell nearly 2 percent as some investors bet that demand for chips was peaking. TI said it is seeing better demand in the current quarter than in a typical first quarter.

Jefferies & Co analyst Adam Benjamin said the share move showed that some investors are betting the highly cyclical chip market has reached a peak. He said they may be betting too soon.

“It’s hard to poke holes at any numbers, here. Business is good,” he said.

TI forecast revenue of $2.95 billion to $3.19 billion for the first quarter, higher than Wall Street’s expectation of $2.94 billion.

Texas Instruments Chief Financial Officer Kevin March said the first-quarter outlook was much better than usual because manufacturers were struggling to keep up with growing demand as the world’s economies improve.

“We believe we’re shipping into our customers’ production, that they’re not actually building inventory,” March told Reuters.

TI, whose chips go in a broad array of products including consumer electronics and industrial gear, said its profit rose to $655 million, or 52 cents per share, compared with $107 million, or 8 cents a share, in the same quarter of 2008.

Before a 1 cent tax-related benefit the profit was 51 cents per share — in line with the high end of a December forecast, the company’s chief financial officer said.

Revenue rose to $3.00 billion from $2.49 billion in the year-ago quarter, when the entire industry was suffering from a sharp fall-off of demand amid global economic weakness.

This was slightly ahead of average analyst expectations for revenue of $2.977 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

In December TI had forecast earnings per share of 47 cents to 51 cents on revenue of $2.9 billion to $3.02 billion.

Shares in Texas Instruments were down 1.8 percent at $23.26 after closing at $23.69 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Shares in TI have fallen about 10 percent since the forecast as some investors were disappointed with the pace of recovery from the downturn.

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