After Persevering for 22 Years, Peregrine Semiconductor Marks IPO

[Updated 8/7/12 5:30 pm, with Peregrine pricing shares.] It’s been a long time coming, but San Diego’s Peregrine Semiconductor raised $77 million in its IPO, offering 5.5 million shares at $14, according to Renaissance Capital’s IPO website. That’s at the low end of its planned range of $14 to $16. Trading is set to begin tomorrow on the NASDAQ market under the ticker symbol PSMI.

The company has spent 22 years getting to this point. Peregrine began with an unusual approach, using synthetic sapphire as a semiconductor material in its proprietary ultraCMOS (Complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor) design for radio frequency chips. It took time to master the technique. Others that tried silicon on sapphire encountered high defect rates, making the technology more suitable for aerospace and defense projects, where performance and other factors can be more important than cost.

As a result, Peregrine’s market was mostly limited during its first decade to satellite makers and military programs.

The company moved to expand beyond that market in 2001, eventually designing chips for cell phone antenna switches, digital attenuators, mixers, and other commercial radio devices. But it is not a high-dollar market. Prices for cell phone switching chips, for example, run less than 20 cents apiece. Peregrine says it has shipped more than 1 billion radio frequency chips since 2006.

Yet Peregrine persevered, working to … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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