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Maxim undergoes a makeover

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

Keywords:analog chip? audio amplifier? MEMS oscillator?

Expects record quarter

The strategy seems to be working. The analog chip maker expects to see another ''record quarter,�� Doluca said during the presentation. Sales are projected to range from $600-to-$630 million in its first fiscal quarter, he said. According to Yahoo Finance, Maxim is projected to earn $0.37 a share on sales of $614.54 million for the quarter.

Maxim recently reported record sales of $566 million for the previous quarter ended June 26, up 11 percent compared with the previous quarter and up 43 percent compared with the year-ago quarter. The company posted a net income of $58.5 million, compared to a net loss of $33.9 million in the prior quarter and a net income of $8 million in the year ago quarter.

In that quarter, ''Maxim saw strength in its handset (smartphone) programs and across industrial customers, while noting a notebook PC chip slowdown with 3Q sales likely to fall quarter-over-quarter,�� Berger said in a recent report. ''Maxim is likely gaining handset analog share at Samsung, LG, and Nokia with its integrated analog baseband, likely at the expense of National.��

The overall demand picture is mixed right now. Europe is weak, but Asia is strong. It�s a mixed bag in the U.S. The wireless infrastructure build-out is strong in China, India, and, surprisingly the U.S., Doluca said.

During the most recent quarter, Maxim revealed it had struck a 300-mm foundry alliance with Taiwan DRAM maker Powerchip Semiconductor Corp. Maxim is qualifying a 180-nm BCD process within Powerchip's 300-mm fab, according to Needham & Co.

Maxim does most of its manufacturing in-house, although it has foundry relationships with Seiko Epson, TSMC and another undisclosed vendor.

Three years ago, Maxim had less than 5 percent of its IC output handled by the foundries. Today, some 30 percent of Maxim�s overall chip output is done by foundries, as a means to cut costs. ''That number is going to grow,�� Doluca said.

Like all analog houses, Maxim prides itself by devising its own processes. The company has some 100 variations of its own process technologies in-house, ranging from bipolar, BCD and silicon-germanium, said Pirooz Parvarandeh, group president and chief technology officer at Maxim.

Meanwhile, the CEO also took issue that TI will change the game by opening the world�s first 300-mm analog fab. He said Maxim has been working with Powerchip-long before TI made its 300-mm announcement.

''Maxim is now qualifying 300-mm analog parts with manufacturing partner Powerchip, which management suggests will lower fab unit costs by 20?30 percent, and overall unit costs by 10?15 percent,�� Berger said.

''Maxim�s stated objective is not to reduce end product prices, but rather to increase gross margins on high volume parts. If these parts meet quality standards, they will be treated as �risk? parts that can be shipped to end customers,�� the analyst said. ''It is conceivable that high-volume production on this fab can ramp later this year or in early 2011, thereby allowing Maxim to keep better pace with demand and match TI�s 300-mm manufacturing claims.��

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