Are These 2 Companies Wasting Your Money?


Stock buybacks are generally considered a bullish signal on Wall Street. They return capital to shareholders, while declaring management's belief that its own cheap shares are its best return on investment. As long as profits remain consistent, share repurchases can even increase earnings per share, by dividing the same amount of earnings among a smaller pool of shares outstanding.

But don't forget -- a company isn't obligated to repurchase shares just because it announced its intention to do so. So don't use the announcement as a reason to buy by itself, rather use it as a launching pad for additional research.

More, more, more!
Now if TriQuint Semiconductor (NAS: TQNT) could get the rest of its business to fall in line like it's done with the patent infringement settlement reached with Avago Technologies yesterday. Shares have been bludgeoned over performance recently, with TriQuint stock down 60% from its 52-week highs, but a $50 million share-repurchase program may signal management's belief it's hit bottom.

TriQuint makes power amplifier chips used in mobile phones using a noise-cancelling technology that it originally got from Infineon Technologies but subsequently designed on its own after Avago acquired Infineon and shut down production of the "filter die" component. TriQuint accused Avago of issuing threats to its customers, claiming it actually owned the technology being used, and the dispute blew up into a full-fledged patent infringement lawsuit. The two announced a settlement yesterday to the long-running battle, though terms weren't disclosed.

The dispute was a distraction and drain on TriQuint, which just reported first-quarter earnings that saw revenues slip 3% but profits plunge 85% from the year-ago period. Worse was the outlook for the second quarter, where it projected revenues well below the consensus estimates, blaming the shortfall on its largest customer, which by a circuitous route is Apple (NAS: AAPL) .

Foxconn is actually TriQuint's biggest customer, representing more than a third of its revenues, but Foxxcon makes Apple's iPhone and is where most of TriQuint's chips show up. While some analysts suspect that may mean it perhaps lost some iPhone business, I'm going with the thought the falloff in the stock represents a big opportunity.

Apple's last iPhone upgrade was last October, and it's rumored the new iPhone 5 will launch this fall. As product sales tend to drop ahead of an upgrade as people want to buy the new product, and TriQuint's CEO says he's expecting the back half of the year to be strong, it would point to a new iPhone launch in October. Coupled with Qualcomm's (NAS: QCOM) trouble meeting demand for iPhone chips, I'd say this is a more likely outcome than TriQuint's having lost traction.

Trading at less than its book value and sales and at only slightly more than its cash on hand, TriQuint looks like a very cheap stock right now. It's definitely too dependent on Apple for its riches, which does make it a risky bet, but I think it will be able to surprise the market later on, so I'm going to rate it to outperform the broad indexes on Motley Fool CAPS. Over there, sOnTheIsle is also looking to a fall iPhone launch to lift TriQuint higher, but you can tell us in the comments box below or on theTriQuint Semiconductor CAPS page whether you think Apple will rescue the chipmaker once again.

Add its stock to your Watchlist to see whether management's buyback announcement is really a signal the stock is about to take off.

A silver lining
Silver miner Hecla Mining (NYS: HL) has also been boxed around the ears for its performance, with its shares down 55% from its highs. It suffered a setback when its lead Lucky Friday mine was shut down by regulators until 2013. At a time when the industry is battling some very acute cost inflation that's taken down First Majestic Silver and Endeavor Silver (NYS: EXK) , Hecla is missing out on a chance to capitalize on their misfortunes.

But there's also an overarching exodus from metals and their miners lately that has less to do with operations and more with macroeconomic considerations that really should be seen as so much noise. Worse off have been gold-mining stocks. Still, this might be an opportunity for Hecla to regroup using its assets in the company's flagship Greens Creek location to mine 7 million ounces of low-cost silver, which will keep it healthy until production resumes at Lucky Friday. In its latest earnings report, Hecla beat on both the top and bottom lines.

As a result, it declared its third consecutive dividend linked to the price of silver, continued its regular quarterly dividend, and approved a stock-repurchase program to buy back 20 million shares over the next two years.

My outperform rating for Hecla on CAPS is currently taking a beating because of the rout occurring in miners and resources, but I'm confident this miner will restore its luster going forward. That puts me in good company, since almost 1,350 members of that investment community have weighed in on the miner's prospects, and, like me, 95% see it digging its way out of this hole.

You can add your opinion in the comments section below then add Hecla to the Fool's free portfolio tracker to see whether it turns up a nugget of value. It's trading at only 4 times the cash it has on its balance sheet, as the market is signaling all of its mines are worthless. That seems absurd and will probably be corrected going forward.

Waste not, want not
If Warren Buffett could invest in small-cap financials, The Motley Fool thinks he would be looking at this small but growing bank stock. Learn "The Stocks Only the Smartest Investors Are Buying" by getting the free report today. Hurry, though, because it's only available for a limited time. Get your copy today!

At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorRich Dupreyowns shares of Apple, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out hisholdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Qualcomm, Apple, and TriQuint Semiconductor.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Apple and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.

Copyright © 1995 - 2012 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.