Slow and Steady Wins the Race, Right?

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Quarterly reports aren't always exciting. For Texas Instruments (NYS: TXN) , the most noteworthy item in this week's third-quarter update was the closing of an acquisition that was announced more than six months ago.

Not that I can blame TI for shining a spotlight on the National Semiconductor deal, because the actual business wasn't much to get excited about -- and National will actually help TI a great deal. Just not right away, you understand.

Sales dwindled 7% year over year while earnings tumbled 28% to $0.51 per share. These figures include about a week's worth of National operations, which is to say, hardly any deal-related boost at all.

The current quarter will include National at full steam ahead, though, and the closest comparable period from last year produced $390 million in sales with a very respectable 33% operating margin. For some context, TI's operating margin in the just-reported quarter was 23.5%. Top competitors Analog Devices (NYS: ADI) and Broadcom (NAS: BRCM) can't hold a candle to either of these profit takes, though intensely specialized analog chip spinner Altera (NAS: ALTR) sits on an even fatter 44% operating margin. So there's still room to improve, even for these highly efficient operators.

In other words, the fourth quarter should include better than a 10% sales boost from National Semi and higher margins to boot. But the actual fourth-quarter guidance doesn't really support this expectation.

Instead, sales are supposed to end up slightly below the year-ago quarter, roughly in line with historical seasonal trends. That's better than the third quarter's 7% swoon, but doesn't make the National deal look like a great buy.

Then again, TI is also backing out of the wireless-baseband business, ceding that market to the likes of Broadcom and Intel (NAS: INTC) . Baseband chips accounted for $263 million of revenue in the third quarter, and TI wants to bring that line of business down to zero by the first quarter of 2013.

Texas Instruments remains a large piece of the smartphone puzzle, and National's expertise in power conversion and digital/analog signal converters certainly plays into that ambition. If you're looking for an even more direct investment in the mobile space, we've prepared this video report on near field communications, showing you four stocks in position to ride the NFC revolution to strong market returns. Click here to watch the video now -- it's fun, free, and good for your portfolio.

At the time this article was published Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Texas Instruments and Intel. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Intel. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinion, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Check out Anders' holdings and bio, or follow him on Twitter and Google+. We have a disclosure policy.

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