National Semiconductor's Forecast Spooks Shareholders

Shares of National Semiconductor (NYSE:NSM) slumped 5% to 52-week lows Friday morning in the wake of the chip maker’s gloomy forecast for the current quarter.

Reporting after Thursday’s closing bell, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company said it tripled its fiscal first-quarter profit to $88.8 million, or 36 cents a share. A year earlier it earned $29.8 million, or 13 cents a share. Analysts had projected EPS of just 34 cents.

Sales grew by 31% to $412 million, coming in just shy of the Street’s view of $415.35 million.

Looking ahead, National Semiconductor forecasted sales of $390 million to $415 million for the current quarter, which would also miss forecasts from analysts for $420.62 million.

“In the near term, slower growth in our end markets and distribution channel, along with some likely inventory reduction, will mute the seasonal growth that we would normally see in our business during this time of the year,” CEO Don Macleod said in a statement.

The weaker-than-expected outlook weighed on National Semiconductor’s stock, which slid 4.5% to $12.32 Friday morning. The company’s shares have lost 16% of their value so far in 2010.