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The Associated Press

DALLAS – (NYSE: TXN) said Monday its fourth-quarter profit soared as factories that use its chips for a wide range of consumer gadgets and industrial products hummed straight through the typically slow December holidays.
TI said those factories are running on lean inventories that should keep demand unusually strong in the first quarter.

Strength spanned the globe and reflected growth across many corners of the economy, from medical imaging devices to flat-screen televisions to Chinese refrigerators and air conditioners.

"It really is a little bit of everything," said Ron Slaymaker, TI’s vice president of investor relations. "It’s much easier to identify what’s up instead of what’s not."

TI had raised its profit and revenue estimates in December but the company still exceeded its heightened expectations.

The Dallas-based company reported a profit of $655 million, or 52 cents a share, compared with a profit of $107 million, or 8 cents a share, during the same period of 2008. The net income beat Wall Street expectations of 49 cents a share.

Revenue rose 21 percent to $3.01 billion, roughly in line with the $2.98 billion expected by analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

Rich Templeton, TI chairman, president and chief executive, said he expects demand to remain strong in the first quarter, when the company has historically faced seasonal declines.

TI projected a first-quarter profit of 44 cents to 52 cents a share, compared with analyst expectations of 43 cents a share. The company estimated revenue of $2.95 billion to $3.19 billion, above analyst expectations of $2.84 billion.

Shares of TI slipped 41 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $23.28 in after-hours trading. The stock rose 58 cents to $23.69 during the regular session before the release of results.

Analysts said the stock’s after-hours decline reflects a weak appetite among investors for semiconductor companies. Intel Corp.’s stock also fell after posting strong fourth-quarter numbers earlier this month.

Doug Freedman, an analyst at Broadpoint AmTech in San Francisco, said some investors worry that chipmakers’ results may be peaking.

For TI, the results marked a happy end to a rough year. In 2009, its profit declined 23 percent to $1.47 billion, or $1.15 a share, from $1.92 billion, or $1.44 a share in 2008. Revenue fell 17 percent in 2009 to $10.43 billion from $12.5 billion.

"We forget, but it wasn’t that long ago when demand was falling through the floor," Kevin March, TI’s chief financial officer, told investors on a conference call.