Time Is On Symmetricom’s Side

By Jon Friedman | October 22, 2013 AAA

The atomic clock equipment maker Symmetricom Inc.’s (Nasdaq:SYMM) stock exploded on Tuesday after the power-management chipmaker Microsemi Corp. (Nasdaq:MSCC) offered to acquire the company for roughly $230 million.

The stock, representing the biggest percentage gainer of the day, soared 51.15% on final trading volume of 16,219,312 shares. Volume was nearly 173.7 times the 30-day average of 93,373, according to FactSet. The stock closed today up 24.96% year-to-date compared with 23% for the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 index.

Microsemi’s $7.18-a-share offer represents a premium of 50% over Symmetrom’s closing stock price on Monday.

San Jose-based Symmetricom is not quite what you’d regard as the standard tech-oriented company. It develops, makes and provides timekeeping technology to users in private industry as well as government circles around the world. Its customers have a strong need for very precise timekeeping machinery. Aliso Viego, Calif.-based Microsemi is a semiconductor operation.

While Symmetricom has the ability to find a better deal until Nov. 8, its board of directors voted unanimously in favor of taking the Microsemi acquisition offer.

“The acquisition of Symmetricom by Microsemi will create a powerful combination,” Symmetricom CEO Elizabeth Fetter said in a press release. “Microsemi is the ideal company to leverage Symmetricom’s technology and capabilities.”

How will Microsemi eventually judge the deal to be a success?

For Microsemi, the issue going forward is whether it can successfully broaden Symmetricom’s chip-scale atomic clock technology into new markets. The venture will test its ability to reinvent, to some degree, the marketplace’s perception of Symmetricom as a deeply specialized company. To date, Symmetricom’s technology has had uses in such areas as GPS satellites.

Meanwhile, Microsemi, whose chips supply greater computing power while employing less energy, projected the purchase to bring an additional 22-to-25 cents per share to its profits in 2014.

Symmetricom ranks No.111 in the San Jose Mercury-News’ 2013 list of Silicon Valley’s 150 largest technology outfits according to revenues. It racked up sales of $228.6 million last year. The newspaper pointed out that Symmetricom, incorporated in 1957, had 544 employees as of June 30, based on its most recent annual report.

Microsemi officials expect the transaction to close by the end of this year.

Disclosure - At the time of writing, the author did not own shares of any company mentioned in this article.

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