Maine’s Fairchild Semiconductor — Tech Coast to Coast

Calif.-based company puts plenty in Maine to work


With a population of just 1.3 million, Maine is home to just a handful of publicly traded companies. However, the state has proven a good place to set up other operations.

A prime example is Fairchild Semiconductor (NYSE:FCS), which is based in San Jose, Calif., but is one of the largest employers in Maine. FCS operates a South Portland, Maine, fabrication plant that produces 8-inch wafers for semiconductors — and it currently is the longest continuously operating semiconductor manufacturing facility in the world.

Fairchild is an iconic company — it was started in 1957 by William Shockley, the co-inventor of the transistor and a winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics. The company originally started out as Fairchild Camera and Instrument, but was bought a couple years later by Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB). It then was sold to National Semiconductor in 1987, went independent in 1997 and hit the NYSE once more in 1999.

As of now, Fairchild develops and manufactures chips for power and signal management solutions, which are a key part of the company’s Maine operations. The applications for the technologies span categories like Internet hardware, mobile phones, storage systems and instrumentation equipment. The company has about 9,000 employees, 800 of whom are in Maine.

As should be no surprise, Fairchild is getting a lift from its mobile business. Then again, the company has made significant investments in the segment over the past five years. Perhaps the most promising is its new technologies for batteries, which have been able to reduce the charge times.

So while Maine might primarily be known for its lobster and outdoors appeal, it has an educated work force and is on the cutting edge of important technology.

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Tom Taulli runs the InvestorPlace blog IPOPlaybook, a site dedicated to the hottest news and rumors about initial public offerings. He also is the author of “All About Short Selling” and “All About Commodities.” Follow him on Twitter at @ttaulli. As of this writing, he did not own a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

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