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Synopsys, Inc. (SNPS), Mentor Graphics Corp (MENT): Go Defensive with this Tech Stock

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As industries turn to smaller and more complex chips, chip makers have to enhance their production processes. Chips are designed and tested in electronic design automation systems. One of the leaders in this market is Synopsys, Inc. (NASDAQ:SNPS). In recent quarterly results, Synopsys, Inc. (NASDAQ:SNPS) generated net income of $0.66 per share, beating analysts’ estimates by 5%. The stock is up 15% year-to-date, rising at a slightly faster pace than competitors’ stocks. Both Mentor Graphics Corp (NASDAQ:MENT) and Cadence Design Systems Inc (NASDAQ:CDNS) are up 12% year-to-date.

Synopsys, Inc. (NASDAQ:SNPS)

Is this sector interesting?

The environment for electronic design automation systems remains challenging due to the weakness of the world economy and softness in semiconductors. Despite this fact, chip producers have to produce new chips, and, therefore, have to design and test them.

Synopsys, Inc. (NASDAQ:SNPS)’ net income grew 32% year-over-year, while revenue rose 15.5%. The net income of Cadence Design Systems Inc (NASDAQ:CDNS) grew 30% year-over-year, while revenue rose 12%. Mentor Graphics Corp (NASDAQ:MENT) saw a 17% decline in revenue. You can see that income growth outpaces the growth of revenue. This is in line with what you might have expected in this environment. While it’s difficult to substantially grow the volume of transactions, companies strive to optimize their performance on the cost front. For example, Synopsys, Inc. (NASDAQ:SNPS) has lowered its operating expenses by 1% year-over-year. In fact, it managed to increase its research and development expenses by 12.4% while cutting administrative expenses by 35%.

Why should you be interested in this sector? The companies that provide electronic design automation systems are essential to chip makers and the world can’t go without chips. You should not expect sky-high performance in this sector, but neither should you expect huge drops.

Valuation

Synopsis trades at a 14.40 forward P/E, while Mentor Graphics Corp (NASDAQ:MENT) trades at a 11.11 forward P/E and Cadence Design Systems Inc (NASDAQ:CDNS) trades at a 14.83 forward P/E. Synopsis operates at 13% margin, while Mentor Graphics Corp (NASDAQ:MENT) has 13.15% operating margin and Cadence Design Systems Inc (NASDAQ:CDNS) has 16.45% operating margin. Turning to debt, Cadence Design Systems Inc (NASDAQ:CDNS) has most debt with a 0.44 debt-to-equity ratio. Mentor Graphics Corp (NASDAQ:MENT) has a 0.21 debt-to-equity ratio, while Synopsis has virtually no debt with a 0.04 debt-to-equity ratio. As you can see, the companies in this sector are mostly in line with each other in terms of valuation and stock performance.

Synopsis has a solid cash position with $681 million in cash and cash equivalents as of the most recent quarter. Cadence Design Systems Inc (NASDAQ:CDNS) boasts good liquidity too, with $810 million of cash. Mentor Graphics Corp (NASDAQ:MENT) is weaker on cash than its counterparts with $206 billion in cash and cash equivalents.

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