[Editor’s note: “7 Semiconductor Stocks to Buy for Your Inner Geek” was previously published in November 2019. It has since been updated to include the most relevant information available.]
In 2018, chip stocks swooned. It was the beginning of the trade war with China and all the unknowns it brought about.
Remember, the one thing the market hates more than anything is uncertainty. And living with the uncertainty of how this powerful industry was going to navigate an all-out – or even partial – trade war was on everyone’s mind.
Global economies hadn’t been expanding as quickly as hoped, so spending had slowed. And that meant semiconductor stocks may well have been starting their downward cycle.
Smaller firms were spared initially, as the big semi firms took the brunt of it. But then the sector suffered.
Since then, things have been entirely different. The iShares Semiconductor Select Industry Index (NYSE:SOXX) has jumped more than 50% over the past year.
Below are seven semiconductor stocks to buy to satisfy your inner geek and your growth portfolio.
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)
Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) looked like a goner a few years ago.
It was competing in two sectors that put it up against the biggest chipmakers out there, plus it was living on scraps from Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) in both the CPU and GPU markets.
As the market began to transform with AI, cloud, and IoT gaining momentum, AMD looked like it was a bit lost. It still made quality products but was struggling to keep up. Lisa Su took over in 2015 and started to make changes, it was just a question of whether she could make them before it was too late.
It’s safe to say now, she has.
AMD stock is making a comeback and competing again. It has also been beating earnings on a regular basis. AMD stock is up more than 90% year to date and doesn’t show many signs of weakness. All of these factors make AMD one of the key semiconductor stocks to buy.
Enphase Energy (ENPH)
Enphase Energy (NASDAQ:ENPH) isn’t technically a semiconductor stock, but it falls into the category since its niche doesn’t really fit better anywhere else. At any rate, it’s a great stock to buy.
ENPH has become the leading builder of microinverter systems for the solar photovoltaic industry.
Basically, when you get energy from solar panels (or most renewables), the electricity is DC (direct current). But the grid, residences, and offices operate on AC (alternating current).
You have to convert that DC power to AC to make it useful. That’s what inverters do.
Prices are coming down as more solar is being deployed. ENPH is getting a lot of that new business.
What makes this one of the best semiconductor stocks to buy is that it’s already up around 380% over the past year, and this train just started running.
Inphi Corp (NASDAQ:IPHI) is a small analog-to-digital chip maker company in a very high-growth space. Unfortunately, the trade war with China has hamstrung its ability to keep its rapid growth going.
IPHI stock has bounced around the past few years but is really coming into its own over the past year.
The stock is up 135% in the past year. Its chips are focused on the server, communications and cloud sectors.
Like all chip stocks, IPHI took a hit in 2018 when the trade war started because it had big clients in China. The market for its products was growing quickly there as Chinese tech spread across Asia. As tensions ease, though, this is one of the semiconductor stocks to buy you want to keep your eye on.
Lattice Semiconductor (LSCC)
Lattice Semiconductor (NASDAQ:LSCC) is back to focusing on its core technology – field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). These are semiconductors that have become very popular products for a variety of industries.
For a while, LSCC was trying to diversify its product lines into various sectors of the tech space, which wasn’t getting much traction. LSCC is now back to focusing on its core business.
That’s why over the past two years the stock flat-lined for the most part, until 2019 began.
Another big part of it was the fact that LSCC has had historically close ties to the Chinese market, so the trade war was a big factor in its performance. But again, uncertainty was more the issue.
But now trade war tensions have eased, and the stock has jumped nearly 200% over the last year.
Xilinx (NASDAQ:XLNX) is one of the few semiconductor stocks to buy on this list that isn’t rallying like crazy.
The reason? One of its top customers happens to be Huawei, the massive Chinese telecom company.
But there’s no real reason to be alarmed. This company has a $30 billion market cap, is up 8% over the last year, and sells at a trailing PE of 27.
XLNX is a leading chipmaker in two of the hottest sectors right now: 5G telecom and data centers.
There’s little doubt that XLNX will continue to grow and maintain its position in lead-edge technologies. It might not be growing as quickly as smaller firms in the sector, but it’s a solid, world-class player with a very bright future.
Cirrus Logic (CRUS)
From here, things get pretty technical, as its production slate includes codecs for analog-to-digital or digital-to-analog converters, smart codecs, boosted amplifiers and haptic drivers, among other integrated circuits (IC).
Chances are these ICs are used in your laptop, smartwatch or even your virtual reality (VR) headset, especially if your device is an iPhone.
Cirrus Logic’s stock has outperformed over the last year, rising 137%. The performance of CRUS is closely tied to sentiment around Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), which has of course soared in recent months.
As demand for iPhones increases, so do Cirrus shares. Some see weakness in Cirrus Logic’s lack of diversification, but if you’re going to be tied down, there are not many companies that are better to be tied to than Apple.
Mellanox Technologies (MLNX)
Mellanox Technologies (NASDAQ:MLNX) is an Israel-based chip firm that also produces a number of interconnect and switch systems.
Its fundamental purpose is to build support systems that facilitate data transmission between servers, storage systems, telecom and other embedded equipment. This is a very important bridge technology that allows all the tech on one side to get its information to the other side.
In March, NVDA announced it was buying MLNX for $6.9 billion. INTC had tried to buy it in January but was rebuffed. Other suitors included Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and XLNX. It’s a very sought-after company.
While the company sells for around $119 a share, that doesn’t exactly equate to where the stock will eventually land.
At this point, MLNX is a stock to buy and an interesting way to buy into NVDA. This is a key player in a very important sector of tech moving forward.