George Gilder is one expert who deserves the description of "visionary." He says, "Technology spearheads the innovations that create wealth. For big winners, you have to go to tech." Along with analyst Charlie Burger he offers a "power" pick for the new year.
"Who today has an analog cell phone? Just a few years ago they were all analog. Now they’re all digital with incredibly expanded functionality. Just as Moore’s law advances revolutionized the cell phone industry, so will it trigger a bolt from analog to digital in board-level power management. As semiconductor geometries shrink, on-chip currents rise and voltages fall, making power regulation on circuit boards more complex and increasingly challenging for traditional solutions. At the same time, Moore’s law is solving the power problem it is creating as digital solutions rapidly overwhelm analog in functionality, flexibility, and size.
"Analog architectures typically require one hard wire per function. Thus 30 power-related functions often require 30 wires, a lot of interface, and a lot of complicated circuitry. Every function adds cost and complexity. Using digital technology, added functions are often free, and engineers can design power modules in 10% of the time with 90% fewer components compared to analog. Digital can save 50% on board real estate. Changes can be made on the fly with a graphic user interface, avoiding lengthy and costly reengineering and re-layout.
"Analog will continue to be preferred for low-level boards and simple consumer devices, battery chargers, and many single-voltage applications. But for medium and complex circuit boards, digital is fast becoming attractive and even necessary. Power-One (PWER NASDAQ) understood this trend early on and remains the only company with a complete digital-power solution. Meanwhile the competition, amid brash dismissals of the technology, is engaged in a panicky drive to duplicate it.
"Restructuring completed, Power-One turned profitable in September for the first time since March 2001. With the traditional product lines picking up steam ahead of the digital avalanche, with no long-term debt, and net cash of $80 million, the current market cap of $517 million (at $6 per share) or 1.9 times annualized revenue looks conservative, giving the stock downside support. Even assuming no new sales, a return the historic ratio of 2.75 times revenue would push the stock to $8.60. If Power-One outperforms all other companies in digital power and grows to dominate a market expected to reach billions in sales, the stock could become a five- or ten-bagger from current levels by the end of the decade."