After the close last night, Linear Technology Corporation (LLTC - 33.12) unveiled fiscal second-quarter earnings of $87.9 million, or 38 cents per share, down 39% from $143.7 million, or 62 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Excluding items, profit came in at 45 cents per share. Revenue decreased 23% to $294.3 million. However, the Milpitas, Calif.-based company's results topped analysts' expectations for a profit of 39 cents per share on $293.1 million in revenue.
Looking ahead, LLTC forecasts third-quarter revenue of $306 million to $318 million, besting the consensus estimate of $302 million. The semiconductor designer also raised its quarterly dividend by 4% to 25 cents per share.
Following these better-than-expected results and strong outlook, FBR lifted its price target for LLTC to $30 from $27.
There could be additional target hikes in store for the stock, as Thomson Reuters places the consensus 12-month price target at $31.92, which represents a discount to today's intraday peak of $33.28. Moreover, Zacks reports that 59% of analysts following LLTC have pegged it with a "hold" or worse rating, leaving plenty of room for fresh upgrades should the shares exceed expectations.
Elsewhere on Wall Street, short interest decreased 9.2% during the most recent reporting period. Nevertheless, the remaining shorted shares would take over four sessions to unwind, at LLTC's average pace of trading, which could translate into a fresh source of buying pressure for the security.
Technically speaking, LLTC has jumped more than 10% so far today, erasing its fractional year-to-date loss. However, the stock remains south of the $33.50 level, which capped rally attempts by the stock in July and October 2011.
In light of LLTC's post-earnings rally, an unwinding of skepticism among the shorts or bearish analysts could help the tech issue to muscle atop this level in the near term.
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