He also told analysts and fund managers here that Analog Devices should not be lumped with others in its market segment since it possesses competitive advantages. Among them are its technology portfolio and product base and a renewed focus on cost controls through manufacturing efficiencies
Fishman joined Analog Devices 39 years ago and became CEO in 1996. ADI's board recently renewed his term as CEO for another two years. He may not want another term after 2012, although Analog Devices is known for keeping its top achievers. Ray Stata, the 75-year-old board chairman, has held the position since 1973, serving as CEO from 1973 through 1996. Most of company's senior executives have on average been with the semiconductor vendor for 25 years.
If, as expected, Fishman steps down as CEO in 2012, he has a small window of opportunity to deliver what shareholders want most: increased stock valuation. It appears Fishman and his management team are keen to deliver. Another senior executive at the conference focused on the company's strength in key markets, including five areas considered strategic to its future.
Among them are industrial and instrumentation, the company's "biggest and most profitable" business segment, said Vincent Roche, vice president, strategic market segments and worldwide sales. Analog Devices is also pointing at opportunities in the healthcare sector, communications infrastructure, automotive and tightly focused segments of the consumer electronics industry.
Recent actions are already winning the company favorable attention from investors and analysts. Conscious of the need to reduce costs and bump up margins, Analog Devices closed a wafer fab in Cambridge, Mass., at the end of its last fiscal year and has increased wafer sourcing at foundries like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd.
The company also increased the number of products sourced from external sources to 49 percent in fiscal 2009, up from 44 percent and 43 percent, respectively, in the prior two fiscal years. ADI will soon begin reaping the benefits of those moves, according to an analyst in attendance here.
"The most dramatic thing we did was to reduce our manufacturing costs," said ADI vice president and CFO David Zinsner. "We are very optimistic about being able to drive our operating margins up. What we didn't do was cut deeply, which would have affected our long-term growth. The net effect is a dramatically different operating model."
Fishman now has the added task of getting investors to acknowledge these efficiencies and reward the company, regardless of what is happening in the overall chip business and the analog sector.