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3 earnings trade ideas for the sizzling chip sector: Stifel

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Chip stocks are one of the hottest sectors in the market.

The VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF has more than doubled the year-to-date return. With this in mind, Stifel analyst Tore Svanberg gave his favorite semiconductor picks going into second-quarter earnings.

"Near-term, our recommendations continue to be targeted at companies with specific and favorable catalysts: MaxLinear (MXL), Cirrus Logic (CRUS) and Inphi (IPHI). All three companies are positioned with strong product cycles this year," Svanberg wrote in a note to clients Wednesday.

The picks have modest market caps in the $1 billion to $2.5 billion range and aren't as well known versus larger chipmakers.

Here is why he recommends the companies.