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Maxim undergoes a makeover

Posted: 04 Oct 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:analog chip? audio amplifier? MEMS oscillator?

Analog chip maker Maxim Integrated Products Inc. unveiled last week what it called ''the new Maxim�� or ''Maxim 2.0.''

Actually, ''Maxim 2.0,�� the company�s business strategy, was set in motion back in 2000 and expanded in 2007. As part of the evolving and ongoing plan, the analog chip maker has remade the company-and shaken up the corporate culture.

It has expanded its product focus, reduced chip and process development times, embraced foundries and is on an acquisition spree. At the event this week, in which the company had a breathtaking 24 separate presentations over a four-and-a-half hour span, Sunnyvale-based Maxim not only discussed its strategy, but it also tipped a number of new products.

The company is quietly devising a range of devices, including a new battery management device for electric cars, a Class D audio amplifier, a MEMs oscillator and a power line communications device.

Tunc Doluca , president and chief executive of Maxim, said the company follows what it calls a ''balanced business model,�� in which the chip maker continues to expand beyond its industrial analog roots and invests in new, high-growth markets.

Maxim-which has bought six companies in the last three years-continues to look for acquisitions that are ''adjacent�� or fit within the company�s product strategy, Doluca said during an interview after the presentations.

On the business front, he remains upbeat despite signs of a slowdown in the IC market. The company is seeing ''some weakness�� in the PC and LCD segments, but the rest of company�s markets ''look robust,�� he told EE Times.

But it has been a roller coaster ride for Maxim and its analog rivals. 2009 was a down year for the steady analog market. But then, in early 2010 or so, the analog crowd, including Maxim, saw a surge in demand and experienced shortages and long lead times.

Now, there are signs of an IC lull. ''We believe we are past the fifth inning of a preannouncement window with a few more candidates lowering their guidance into the end of September,�� said Vernon Essi, an analyst with Needham & Co. LLC, in a recent report. ''Specifically, we believe Maxim, Intersil and O2Micro are likely candidates to preannounce given their high concentration of revenue exposure to computing and consumer.��

Analog is ''holding steady�� despite the lull, said Susie Inouye, an analyst at Databeans Inc., but �obviously, the third quarter is softer.�� The IC market is projected to grow 24 percent in 2010, she said. Of that, the analog market is expected to grow 30 percent this year, she added.

Another challenge for Maxim and others is how vendors will react to Texas Instrument Inc., which recently open the world�s first 300-mm analog fab. ''TI is bringing on lots of 300-mm and other capacity, driving low cost advantages to hit the likes of National, Maxim, ADI, Intersil, and to a lesser extent, Linear,�� said Craig Berger, an analyst with FBR.

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