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TriQuint hurdles 4Q estimates, confirms outlook

TriQuint Semiconductor stormed past analysts’ estimates in its fourth quarter Monday, raking in $23.2 million, or 27 cents a share, on sales of $90.3 million.

First Call Corp. consensus expected the chipmaker to earn 24 cents a share on sales of $89.1 million in the quarter.

TriQuint (Nasdaq: TQNT) shares closed up $1.31 to $32.50 ahead of the earnings report before surging to $35.31 in after-hours trading.

The $90.3 million in sales represents an 83 percent jump from the year-ago quarter when it earned $10.2 million, or 12 cents a share, on sales of $49.4 million.

“From every conceivable financial perspective, 2000 was an outstanding year,” said Chief Financial Officer Ed Whitehurst during a conference call with analysts.

In the fiscal year, TriQuint earned $71.4 million, or 83 cents a share, on sales of $300.7 million, which is up 84 percent from fiscal 1999 when it pocketed $25 million, or 34 cents a share, on sales of $163.7 million.

Ahead of the earnings report, Merrill Lynch analyst Chris Danely, who rates the stock a “strong buy,” predicted TriQuint would earn 24 cents a share on sales of $90 million.

“TriQuint’s particularly well insulated from the slowing we’re seeing in mobile phones because they’ve got a good mix of wireless and wireless broadband data business,” he said. “That way they don’t get creamed the way other chipmakers do when there’s a major inventory correction.”

CEO Steven Sharp said that while the company's mobile phone business, particularly sales to the likes of Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM), Motorola (NYSE: MOT) and Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERICY) is slowing, TriQuint is leaving its sales and earnings estimates for the first quarter and the fiscal year unchanged.

Sharp said the company expects to post sales of $94 million in the first quarter and $411 million in the fiscal year, in line with current estimates. It expects gross profit margins for the fiscal year of 52.5 percent and a profit of $1 a share.

“We’ve just completed a tremendous, and our most prosperous, year in history,” Sharp said. “Since the end of the year, some of our customers have adjusted their orders. However, we see growing demand for our high-performance products.”

TriQuint recorded a book-to-bill ratio of 1.16 to 1 in the fourth quarter, up from 1.13 to 1 in the third quarter. Gross profit margins surged to 57 percent, up from 45.5 percent in the year-ago quarter.

The company ended the quarter with more than $461 million in cash and short-term investments.

Last quarter, it easily topped the Street's view when it posted a profit of $21 million, or 24 cents a share, on sales of $80.6 million.

Its shares raced up to a 52-week high of $67.75 in June before slumping to a low of $21 in October.

Twelve of the 14 analysts tracking the stock rate it either a “buy” or “strong buy.”