Texas Instruments Sales, Profits Fall On Weak Demand

Texas Instruments Inc.'s (TXN) third-quarter profit fell 30%, hurt by a broad slump in demand that the chip maker said should continue into the current period.

The company's revenue in the third quarter was higher than it expected, but it noted the quarter was softer than normal. While executives said on a conference call that the company is seeing "early signs of stabilization," they still expect the fourth quarter to be weak and below seasonal.

"Economic uncertainty continues to weigh on demand in almost every major market segment in which we operate," Chairman and Chief Executive Rich Templeton said in a press release.

TI, which makes chips used in everything from cellphones to industrial equipment, had seen a sharp rebound after the recession caused customers to virtually stop buying chips. But recent macroeconomic worries have led to softer demand for semiconductors and other tech products, weighing not only on consumer businesses but also starting to affect enterprise demand.

TI in August lowered its view for the third quarter, saying it was seeing broad-based weakness across its customers and markets. The company on Monday echoed those comments and provided lower-than-expected earnings guidance for the current quarter.

Shares, up 11% over the past 12 months through Monday's close, slipped 1.3% to $31.27 in after-hours trading. The stock had climbed 4% during the regular session trading, slightly better than the 3.4% gain in the Philadelphia SOX Semiconductor index.

Bernstein analyst Stacy Rasgon said weakness in the third and fourth quarters was broadly expected, with macroeconomic softness weighing on TI's business.

"Results weren't horrible versus where expectations were," Rasgon said. "Everyone expected it to be a messy quarter, but they actually beat this quarter."

Chief Financial Officer Kevin March said in an interview the market is beginning to bottom, with July seeing the sharpest drop in orders but the decline moderating in August and September. He said revenue hit a low in July and grew the following two months.

He said the market declines aren't driven by excess semiconductor inventory but noted customers are being cautious with orders on worries about the macroeconomic environment.

"Customers had been reducing their internal inventories, and that's causing us and our competitors in the semiconductor industry to see revenue decline more sharply than what our customers ard actually experiencing," he said.

Ron Slaymaker, vice president of investor relations, said during a conference call that the reduction in TI inventory by customers is largely past. He noted the company has a "reasonable" view of the fourth quarter but said demand beyond that is tied to what the macroeconomic environment is like.

TI predicted a fourth-quarter profit of 28 cents to 36 cents, including about 15 cents of acquisition-related costs, on revenue between $3.26 billion and $3.54 billion. Analysts, on average, were expecting earnings of 54 cents a share on revenue of $3.43 billion, according to Thomson Reuters. A year ago, TI reported fourth-quarter earnings of 78 cents a share on $3.53 billion in revenue.

TI has been benefiting in recent quarters from increased focus on its highly profitable analog and embedded-application chips, as well as its applications processor for smartphones, tablets and other devices. Last month, it closed a $6.5 billion deal for rival National Semiconductor, expanding its reach in the analog market.

The company's acquisition of National Semiconductor, while hurting fourth-quarter earnings by 15 cents a share, is helping buffer its revenue in the period, March said. At the midpoint of TI's guidance, sales are down about 2% sequentially with contributions from National Semiconductor's revenue. Taking that out, the midpoint would be down 10%, he said.

March added during a conference call that acquisition charges will total $260 million in the fourth quarter and then decline to about $150 million in the first quarter and $110 million in the second quarter. The charges should then fall by about $10 million per quarter until reaching $80 million, which is the amortization of intangibles amount. He said that would continue for about eight to 10 years.

March said smartphone demand remains "solid," but the company's other businesses are experiencing softness. Automotive customers are "being confronted by wary customers given the macroeconomic outlook," he said, while industrial demand is "weak." Communications infrastructure is slowing, while consumer and PC demand are below normal seasonality, March added.

For the latest quarter, TI reported a profit of $601 million, or 51 cents a share, down from $859 million, or 71 cents a share, a year earlier. The latest quarter included about 9 cents of costs tied to the acquisition. Revenue fell 7.3% to $3.47 billion.

The company last month forecast a per-share profit of 56 cents to 60 cents with revenue between $3.23 billion and $3.37 billion.

Gross margin narrowed to 50.3% from 54.5%.

Sales of analog chips, which provide almost half of total revenue, slipped 1.5% as earnings fell 20%. Revenue from the company's embedded processing segment declined 7% as earnings decreased 29%, while wireless sales dropped 24% amid lower demand for connectivity chips from key customers, pushing earnings down 57%.