How One Chip Shop Deals With Weak Markets

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The semiconductor market is certainly not all wine and roses. One look at the year-to-date charts of memory giant Micron Technology (NAS: MU) or communications-chip expert Broadcom (NAS: BRCM) will say a thousand words about competitive pressures and low end-user demand. And the problems aren't going gentle into that good night -- Broadcom CEO Scott McGregor says that the near future still holds "potential industry softness. "

On the other hand, even this seemingly pitch-black operating environment for gadget builders and their chip suppliers didn't stop Broadcom from setting revenue and cash flow records in the just-reported third quarter. If you're going to be stuck in one subsector of the ailing tech industry today, I suppose it helps when you're closely connected to the mobile phone market.

Sales in the Hand Platform segment, which includes wireless radio chips for smart and dumb phones, grew by an impressive 16% from the previous quarter. The company is pushing into the soon-to-explode near field communications market, where NXP Semiconductors currently reigns supreme, and is "committed to making NFC as ubiquitous as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are today."

And just in case the data center networking sector gets hot again or smartphone sales start to stumble, Broadcom also bolstered its Ethernet skills this quarter by launching a $3.7 billion bid for high-speed routing expert NetLogic Microsystems (NAS: NETL) . The vast majority of NetLogic's chips ship straight into Cisco Systems (NAS: CSCO) routers and switches, which still isn't a bad place to be.

So Broadcom is hanging tough but also hedging its bets. And don't forget about the record-level cash flows, which is always a welcome sight to Foolish investors. The third quarter's results may not have impressed Mr. Market, but the company is very well positioned for raucous growth over the next few years, especially if that NFC bet pays off.

Wondering what's so special about NFC technologies? Watch this free video report on NFC payments and you'll see exactly why NXP and Broadcom are throwing so much wood onto that fire. Chances are, you'll want to make your own big bet on NFC when the end credits roll. The report is totally free, so what are you waiting for? Just click here to get the virtual projectors rolling.

At the time this article was published Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares of Micron but holds no other position in any of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Cisco Systems. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Cisco Systems and NXP Semiconductors. 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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