National Semiconductor reported better than expected third-quarter earnings last week, suggesting the chip market is beginning to perk up.
Net income for the quarter ended 23 February was $42.8 million (#26.7 million), almost double last year's figure. Sales for the period climbed 13% to $680.5 million, compared with sales of $600.3 million for the same quarter last year.
Third-quarter sales were ahead of the second quarter. This is unusual as sales usually suffer a seasonal dip in the third quarter, according to Nat Semi.
Buoyant PC orders assisted the improved figures, fuelled by demand for the company's Super I/O products.
LAN-based products continued to be the biggest part of the company's business. Orders for wireless solutions were double those of last year, largely due to the release of new products.
Despite the results, the company's share price slipped 38 cents to $30.38.
However, semiconductor stocks fell across the board.
Brian Halla, Nat Semi's president and CEO , commented: "I'm encouraged by the order momentum in the personal computer, communications and analog markets going into 1997. The continuing recovery of these areas is reflected in our bottom line profitability."
For the first nine months of fiscal 1997, the company reported a net loss of $135.3 million on sales of $1.9 billion. This compares with net a income of $176.3 million for the first nine months of 1996.
Meanwhile, rival Texas Instruments was predicting a revival in the semiconductor market in 1997 because of strong demand for components for consumer electronic products.
Digital signal processors and mixed signal/analog chips will lead the comeback, which will see the global chip market grow by 10% in 1997 following last year's sharp decline, TI predicted.
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