SAN JOSE, Calif. -- This week, National Semiconductor Corp. is celebrating its 50th anniversary. In a statement, National touted its accomplishments over the years and announced some news in its latest product thrust: solar.
In 1967, for example, National developed the first integrated voltage regulator, the LM100. National went on to develop the industry's first modern operational amplifier (LM101), which is still in use today. National also pioneered low-voltage differential signaling (LVDS), Ethernet devices and even a 32-bit microprocessor.
But today, National's future remains cloudy despite a push in solar and other markets. For some time, the company has been suffering. Besides a string of losses, layoffs and cutbacks, it continues to lag in its core analog business and is losing share in one sector.
In March, National Semiconductor said it planned to close two facilites and cut 1,725 jobs, or 26 percent of its workforce, after reporting that revenue declined more than 30 percent for the quarter ended March 1.
It is set to report its results on June 11 and the outlook is mixed. ''We expect National Semi's calendar 2Q results to beat Street estimates,'' said Craig Berger, an analyst with FBR. ''For calendar 2Q, we are now forecasting National's revenues to decline 4 percent sequentially to $281 million, better than the Street estimate of $272 million. Our calendar 2Q EPS estimate of (minus) $0.40 is better than the consensus estimate of (minus) $0.42, though better-than-expected operating expense spending could render our EPS estimate too conservative.''
Besides the losses, there are other issues. ''Clearly, investors will focus on whether evidence suggests National is losing handset chip market share to Maxim (mini-analog baseband), and the firm's gross margin profile and fab utilization rates,'' Berger said.
For fiscal Q3, the outlook is also mixed. ''We believe National has been shipping below end-consumption rates for the past two consecutive quarters as the global supply chain reduced inventory,'' he said. ''As such, we expect National to benefit from improved handset and industrial shipment momentum and should guide calendar 3Q revenues to grow in the mid-single digit range sequentially. This implies a calendar 3Q revenue level of $290 million to $310 million, potentially ahead of the Street estimate of $281 million.''