No. 3 Best Performer: Micron Technology
First-Half Return: +117%
Caught you by a bit a surprise, no? But semiconductor manufacturer and marketer Micron Technology (MU) caught the wave of demand for the mobile world, particularly phones and tablets, and rode it to a spectacular first half of 2013.
Demand for its DRAM and NAND Flash products powered a financial turnaround, as its sales growth soared, gross margins improved after a focus on operational efficiency at its factories, and MU turned a solid profit for its just-ended (May 31) quarter after a solid second quarter (Feb. 28) that surprised analysts.
That turnaround sent analysts scrambling: Sanford Bernstein reiterated an “outperform” rating on the shares, while Piper Jaffray, Roth Capital, RBC and Nomura all lifted their target prices on the stock over the first half, helping to power the rally.
The future looks bright, too: MU’s purchase of Japan-based Elpida (ELPDF) recently cleared the last antitrust hurdles, and Elpida holds a contract to supply Apple’s (AAPL) iPad and iPhone memory chips.