Idaho’s Micron Technology — Its Chips Are No Small Potatoes

Memory chip maker may be poised for profitability


Though Idaho is most known for its spuds, the Potato State also is an emerging technology power. This is one of the reasons why our Real America stock for Idaho is Micron Technology (NASDAQ:MU), one of the world’s largest semiconductor companies.

Micron sells to customers in networking, consumer electronics and telecommunications, but the bulk of its sales are in the computer market. Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) are leading customers, and Intel is a major holder of Micron stock. You’ll find Micron chips in computers, workstations, network servers, mobile phones, flash memory cards, USB storage devices, digital still cameras, MP3 players and auto equipment.

Micron, which employs 26,100 workers, is among the top 10 in worldwide semiconductor sales, with about $8.4 billion in annual revenue and a nearly 2.3% market share as of 2011.

Micron’s sites in Idaho include its headquarters in Boise, as well as including wafer fabrication and assembly and test operations in Meridian and Nampa. Global operations include facilities in Israel, Japan, China, Italy, Singapore and Scotland.

Idaho has a long-term commitment to technology industry; science and technology accounts for over 25% of total revenue for business in the state and 70% of the Idaho’s exports. That’s due in part to Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) operations in Boise since the 1970s. Idaho also is home to Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) operations since Oracle’s acquisition of Sun Microsystems.

In 2012, Micron reached a deal to buy bankrupt Japanese semiconductor producer Elpida. The purchase is predicted to benefit Boise, as it would allow research & development operations there to expand.

Because of its important place in the Idaho tech landscape and the crucial role of semiconductor stocks in the overall American economy, Micron is our Real America Index pick for Idaho.

(And just in case you think we completely overlooked the business of potatoes in the state, it’s worth noting that after an initial round of startup funding in the late 1970s, Idaho billionaire and potato tycoon J.R. Simplot provided the capital to boost Micron’s growth in the 1980s.)

Check out the complete list of Real America Index components, along with an interactive map of short-term and long-term returns.

As of this writing, Vicki Passmore did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

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