From Greece's ongoing fiscal farce to the U.S. government's debt crisis, this hasn't been the easiest of years for the global economy.
Fear not, though. Chip giant Texas Instruments
"We're probably seeing early signs of a bottom starting to form," Kevin March, the company's CFO, told TheStreet. "For example, we saw our new order pattern drop sharply in July, then fall in August and September at a slower pace."
March added that customer inventories of TI products appear healthy, which points to an improving spending climate. "They have what we would call levels consistent with their rate of production," he said. "They don't have excess inventory."
"I think that we could be coming to the bottom," explained Ralph Quinsey, the TriQuint CEO. "This is based on feedback from customers with regard to getting their inventory back in control and healthier forecasts from the network side of our business."
TriQuint's recent fiscal third-quarter results came in slightly better than the company's guidance, with mobile device revenue up 14% year over year. Revenue from components for optical networks and telecom base stations, though, dipped 3% over the same period.
Like March, Quinsey told TheStreet that, even with the spending slowdown starting to bottom, it's tough to predict the upturn. " I am not sure when we're coming out," he said.
No stranger to the vagaries of the economy, the semi sector has certainly felt the burn during previous IT spending slowdowns, although recent quarterly results are cause for optimism. Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)
Speaking during a conference call, CEO Rory Read also noted that AMD's server business was heading in "the right direction" with revenue climbing 27% sequentially.
Speaking during a conference call, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs pointed to the company's record $15 billion fiscal 2011 revenue and offered bullish outlook. "Looking forward, we expect strong revenue and earnings growth again in fiscal 2012," he said, citing, in particular, demand for smartphone chips running on CDMA telecom networks. "In the coming year, we expect continued healthy growth in CDMA-based device shipments despite the macroeconomic slowdown."
Although not a semiconductor company, wireless LAN specialist Meru Networks
Businesses, according to Abu Hakima, are spending money to assimilate employee iPads, smartphones and Google
Some Silicon Valley firms also have cited strong demand for their wares in key overseas markets, helping offset, for example, the economic woes hanging over Western Europe.
"The one area that has been very strong, and a catalyst for growth, has been that emerging markets segment," explained a spokesman for a major component supplier, who asked not to be named. "
Still, though, a question mark still hangs over IT spending for many companies.
"I have seen conflicting information