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LSI CEO Sees Benefits From Tablets; Correction Over For Company

By Shara Tibken Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- LSI Corp. (LSI) doesn't supply chips for tablets, but the semiconductor maker is still benefiting from increased demand for the mobile devices. Abhi Talwalkar, chief executive of the company that supplies chips for storage and networking, said during an interview with Dow Jones Newswires that while tablets are likely to hurt PC sales somewhat going forward, he isn't concerned as LSI also provides chips for infrastructure like networking and is expanding more into flash technology. "The more [mobile] products and apps there are, the more they drive the need for networking, storage and servers," he said. "We're behind the scenes of the big push for mobile Internet." In addition, Talwalkar said PC demand is generally stable, and there is a tightening in the supply of hard-disk drives. LSI went through a transformation in recent years, turning itself from a diversified chip maker with handset and manufacturing operations, among other offerings, to a provider of chips for networking and storage, including hard-disk drives. Its storage systems business has helped it report stronger results of late. Talwalkar said that the company is about a quarter ahead of fellow chip makers in the industry's recent correction. Many companies have warned of weakening demand in the second half of the year, but Talwalkar said LSI went through a slight correction in the second and third quarters due to inventory adjustments. "We might have been the canary in the coal mine in the second quarter," he said. "From our perspective, the correction is behind us, and it's supported by the fact we're guiding growth for the fourth quarter from a midpoint standpoint." Meanwhile, Talwalkar said LSI's first quarter could come in a little better than its normal seasonal decline of 8% to 10% as results bounce back from a muted fourth quarter, which typically marks the peak. "If the fourth quarter is down or if it's a muted seasonal up, we may possibly, as a result, experience a muted seasonal down in the first quarter," he said. But Talwalkar cautioned that he wasn't changing guidance for the fourth quarter or making projections for the first. The company will report its next quarterly results in late January and will provide details at that time. In addition, Talwalkar said business spending on IT should continue to be "fairly positive" in 2011 as companies feel better about the economy's stability, the fear of a double dip has subsided and businesses have a lot of cash. "We're probably in the best position the company has been in for a very, very long time," Talwalkar said. "And that's in terms of our balance sheet, product competitiveness, pipeline and what we expect to do in terms of financial performance over 2011 and 2012." LSI shares, down 1.7% this year, were flat at $5.91 in recent trading. -By Shara Tibken, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2189; shara.tibken@dowjones.com

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