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'Merger mania' for semiconductors to return: Analyst

Chips & China uncertainty

When the demand for personal computers was obviously slowing, mergers might have been the saving grace for investors in semiconductor companies.

First there was Avago Technologies acquiring Broadcom for $37 billion, then Intel bought Altera in its biggest deal ever, all while PC sales quietly dwindled.

"Investors were looking at what was going to be the next lottery ticket of what company was going to get acquired," said Wedbush Securities analyst Betsy Van Hess, adding that the mergers might have shrouded the fact that industry fundamentals weren't all that strong.

But now that PC sales look to be stabilizing, expect more merger activity next year, Van Ness said.

"We will see further consolidation in the industry, there's no question about that," Van Ness said Thursday in an interview with CNBC's "Squawk Alley." "Until companies have a better feel of end market demand...we're going to probably not see too many acquisitions between now and the and of the year...but next year I do expect that to pick up."

Analysts are optimistic PC demand will be boosted by the release of Windows 10, which has received strong reviews. The addition of Intel's new Skylake chip could spur interest as well and makes the company one to watch in the industry, said Van Ness.

Intel unveils new 'Skylake' chip

"2016 should be a much better year for the PC market than 2015 and Skylake will be a big driver of that, so Intel definitely is one of out most defensive names in [the chip] universe," she said.

As for which semiconductor company would be next for a lottery-like deal, Van Ness was less than optimistic it would be Micron Technologies, which was eyed in July by a Chinese-owned company for a record buyout.

"I don't see that happening with China because of the fact that there's just so much legalities there in terms of a Chinese entity owning such a huge U.S. corporation," she said.

Nonetheless, looking past the possibility of renewed merger activity, Van Ness pointed to an expected bump for PCs during the holiday season and Chinese new year as reason to be optimistic for chip leaders.

Disclosure: Betsy Van Hess and/or the analyst's firm own shares of Intel. Wedbush Securities makes a market in the securities of the subject company.