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Atmel shares on the move

Shares of specialty chipmaker Atmel Corp. (Nasdaq: ATML) surged up 2 3/8, or 13 percent, to 21 1/8 Wednesday after Prudential Securities raised its rating from "accumulate" to "strong buy."

While competitors such as Actel Corp. (Nasdaq: ACTL) and Altera Corp. (Nasdaq: ALTR) have struggled of late, Atmel is coming off one of the best quarters in company history.

In its first quarter, Atmel earned $16.6 million, or 17 cents a share, on record sales of $290 million.

Following Wednesday's upgrade, 10 of the 14 analysts following the stock rate it either a "buy" or "strong buy."

First Call consensus expects it to earn 13 cents a share in its second quarter and 64 cents a share in the fiscal year.

In the second quarter of 1998, Atmel broke even on sales of $288 million.

The stock peaked at 23 5/16 shortly after its first-quarter results were announced in April. It fell to a 52-week low of 6 in September.