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Is Qualcomm the best semiconductor company in the world?

IC Insights recently released their research bulletin that ranks the major semiconductor companies worldwide over the first three calendar quarters of 2008. The company provides two rankings in their free offering: a list of the top 20 by sales and a list of the top 20 by sales growth rate.

Qualcomm (QCOM) is a notable performer on both lists:
  • Qualcomm used a 27% year-over-year growth rate to jump five spots and rank as the 9th largest semiconductor supplier through the first three quarters of 2008.
  • This 27% year-over-year growth rate is good enough to place Qualcomm in the number one position in the rankings based on sales growth.
Ironically, Broadcom (BRCM), Qualcomm's rival both in the courtroom and in the cell phone industry, is close on Qualcomm's heels with a 26% growth rate that is good enough for the second spot in the growth rankings. Where Qualcomm's sales volume allowed it to move up one spot, Broadcom's sales volume allowed it to move from 23 on last year's list to 18 on this year's list.

As an aside, the companies that primarily produce memory chips saw serious slow-downs in growth. Quimonda fell 12 positions to the 30th spot and Hynix saw a growth rate of -27%, pretty much the opposite of Qualcomm. SanDisk, Elipda and Spansion no longer appear in the top 20 at all.

Conclusion --

Qualcomm and Broadcom show that some companies have the ability to maintain growth despite an industry-wide slowdown. In the near term, both of these companies are experiencing falling stock prices and they are likely to continue to do so until the overall stock market bottoms. As the growth leaders in their industry, however, they are prime candidates to bounce back first when the economy begins to recover. As such, they deserve to be on the watchlist of any long-term tech investor.


Related articles by TradeRadar: Semiconductor rankings out - roadmap to investment opportunities?

Sources: IC Insights Research Bulletin - 54-Point Growth Rate Swing Within Top 20 Supplier Ranking

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