Analog Devices of Norwood is the sort of company any state would love to have - a semiconductor industry pioneer in its field that sticks to its core products, is repeatedly cited as a good place to work, and has an oversize civic conscience.
Chairman Ray Stata doesn't have the world in his hand: Analog Devices has ups and downs. But demand for its chips is strong. (Globe Staff Photo / Janet Knott)
In an industry that suffers violent up-and-down cycles, Analog has occasionally stumbled since its founding in 1965. But it also has made a lot of money over the years.
Certainly, 1999 was such a year, as a telecommunications revolution sparked an explosion of sales of Analog's specialized integrated circuits for use in wireless and broadband products, from cellular phones to high-speed Internet switching devices. Those sales helped push the company to the number two spot on the annual Globe 100 ranking.
It was a year for which Analog's cofounder and chairman, Ray Stata, 65, and his chief executive, Jerald Fishman, 54, had been waiting since 1990. That was when the abrupt end of the Cold War pulled the rug out from under the company's longtime base of selling integrated circuits to the military.
''That's when we saw that a lot of that technology could become very useful in one of the highest growth markets that we then could see, which was communications,'' Fishman said.
Last year, 40 percent of Analog's revenue came from chip sets for cable modems, DSL transmission equipment, and radio-based applications that send sound and images and data to wireless handheld receivers and laptop computers. Analog thinks these sales this year could reach 50 percent and push revenue for the company's 2000 fiscal year to about $2.3 billion, from $1.64 billion for the four quarters ended Jan. 31.
Digital cameras and camcorders, along with compact disc and DVD players, also are a strong market, along with specialized computer and military applications, speed-sensing devices that trigger automobile air bags, and a new line of energy-saving controls for electric motors.
Analog Devices' fiscal year ends Oct. 31, while The Globe 100 survey measures performance for the four quarters ending closest to Dec. 31 - in this case, the period ending Jan. 31. Earnings for that more recent period rang in at $259.3 million, more than double Analog's returns for the preceding 12 months. These figures were enhanced by sales for the final three months of this period, ending Jan. 31, 2000 - $490.3 million, up 63 percent from a year earlier, with earnings for the quarter tripling to $93 million.
Analog spent $257 million in its 1999 fiscal year on research and product development, or 17.7 percent of its revenue. Fishman said the company's big challenge is meeting the communication industry's demand for ever-faster signal-processing devices to move voice, data, and images at ever-higher speeds.