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Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM)

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  • Mon, Mar. 9, 4:18 PM
    • Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) has launched a $15B buyback program that will replace a prior program with $2.1B remaining. The company plans to buy back $10B worth of shares within 12 months, on top of a current commitment to return 75% of free cash flow to shareholders. At current levels, the new buyback is good for repurchasing ~1/8 of all outstanding shares.
    • The quarterly dividend has been hiked by $0.06 (14%) to $0.48/share; that's good for a 2.6% yield at current levels. It will be effective for dividends payable after March 25.
    • Qualcomm spent $1.7B on buybacks in the December quarter (FQ1). With the company ending the quarter with $3.6B left on its buyback authorization, today's announcement suggests it has spent $1.5B on buybacks since.
    • A 20% dividend increase and $5B buyback hike was announced a year ago. Qualcomm plans to raise debt to finance the new capital returns. The company had $31.6B in cash/marketable securities and no debt at the end of FQ1.
    • Shares have risen to $74.21 AH.
    | 14 Comments
  • Thu, Mar. 5, 7:49 PM
    • The WSJ reports Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) U.S. mobile phone service will initially feature just one phone - the mammoth Nexus 6 phablet, originally designed by Google and made by Lenovo's (OTCPK:LNVGY) Motorola Mobility unit. iPhone fans are out of luck, as are those who prefer more modestly-sized Android hardware.
    • The paper adds the service might launch by month's end. As previously rumored, it will rely on Sprint (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile's (NYSE:TMUS) networks, along with Wi-Fi hotspots.
    • For those curious, the Nexus 6 has a 6" quad-HD (2560x1440) OLED display, a 13MP rear camera with optical image stabilization, 4K video recording support, and a large f/2.0 aperture, and Qualcomm's (NASDAQ:QCOM) high-end Snapdragon 805 processor (quad-core, 2.7GHz.). Naturally, it runs on an unmodified version of Android 5.0 (Lollipop).
    • The report suggests Google will try to avoid ruffling the feathers of its U.S. carrier partners by limiting the amount of hardware supported by its phone service ... and that it will have it act as a showcase for what it thinks mobile services should be like (as suggested by Sundar Pichai) by offering the services through its favorite devices.
    • Separately, Google has launched its long-rumored U.S. car insurance shopping site in California (more states will come later). Google asserts the site, known as Google Compare, can provide price quotes for various providers in "as little as 5 minutes."
    • A U.K. version of Google Compare has been running for two years. Like rival car insurance shopping sites, Google will get a referral fee on sales; major insurers such as MetLife and Mercury Insurance are on board.
    | 28 Comments
  • Mon, Mar. 2, 6:39 PM
    • Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) has been busy on the first day of the Mobile World Congress, announcing refreshes (and new names) for its mobile processor and modem lineups, as well as new security software OEM deals and alliances with telecom equipment vendors.
    • Intel's SoFIA baseband/app processor line, aimed at low-end Android devices, has launched as the Atom x3 line. Three processors are offered - one has a dual-core, 1GHz. CPU and 3G modem, another (made by partner Rockchip) a quad-core, 1.2GHz. CPU and 3G modem, and a third a quad-core 1.4GHz. CPU and 4G modem. Notably, SoFIA uses ARM's (NASDAQ:ARMH) Mali GPU cores, and relies on an older 28nm manufacturing process.
    • Also officially launched: Cherry Trail, the 14nm successor to the 22nm Bay Trail line as Intel's entry for the tablet and small-screen convertible market, and whose processors will be sold under the Atom x5 and x7 monikers.
    • Relatively few details were provided about x5/x7 parts, which leads AnandTech to suspect they're aimed at late 1H15 and 2H15 products. Intel does note x5/x7 processors will sport powerful Gen 8 GPUs, and (as rumored) the company's next-gen Airmont CPU core.
    • The XMM 7360, the latest entry for Intel's standalone baseband modem line, supports Cat-10 LTE (peak speeds of 450Mbps). The prior-gen XMM 7260 topped out at Cat-6 (peak speeds of 300Mbps); Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) unveiled a Cat-10 modem last November.
    • Other announcements: 1) Intel's McAfee unit's VirusScan Mobile software will be pre-installed on Samsung's Galaxy S6, and McAfee's Mobile Security software will be bundled with an LG smartwatch; a pre-install deal already exists for LG smartphones. 2) Intel is partnering with Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, and Huawei on creating a variety of network management and radio network hardware running on (Intel-powered) servers.
    • Intel is hoping the efforts will bolster a mobile chip division that (thanks in large part to marketing subsidies) posted a $1.1B op. loss in Q4, and a $4.2B op. loss for 2014. Nomura and Wells Fargo are optimistic SoFIA can provide a lift.
    • Shares rose 2.4% today to $34.06, aided by a chip stock rally that followed the NXP/Freescale deal.
    | 10 Comments
  • Mon, Mar. 2, 11:02 AM
    • Qualcomm (QCOM -0.5%) has used the first day of the Mobile World Congress to share details about the Snapdragon 820, a next-gen flagship processor (the successor to the 810, which is set to begin shipping in commercial hardware) that will begin sampling in 2H15.
    • The 820 makes use of Qualcomm's Zeroth neural networking processor tech, as well as a next-gen ARM CPU core architecture called Kryo (the successor to Qualcomm's Krait); the 810 used off-the-shelf ARM Cortex A-57 cores. Whereas the 810 uses TSMC's 20nm manufacturing process, the 820 will use an unnamed "leading edge FinFET process node" (quite possibly Samsung/Globalfoundries' 14nm process).
    • Among other things, Zeroth is said to enable "computer vision, on-device deep learning and smart cameras that can recognize scenes, objects, and read text and handwriting," always-on "awareness Devices that can anticipate user needs by always being aware of their surroundings," and "dynamic audio that can adapt surround sound based on head movement and facial recognition." Qualcomm is counting on the technology to be differentiator as it squares off against MediaTek, Intel, Nvidia, and (indirectly) Samsung.
    • Qualcomm has also announced Snapdragon Sense, a fingerprint sensor solution that relies on ultrasonic (sound wave-based) fingerprint recognition rather than (like existing mobile solutions) capacitive touch-based recognition. Qualcomm notes ultrasonic recognition allows a sensor to "scan through a smartphone cover that is made of glass, aluminum, stainless steel, sapphire and plastics," and to "scan through various contaminants that might be present on the finger, such as sweat, hand lotion and condensation."
    • Sense is expected to be available in commercial hardware later this year, and is "already in various sampling stages with most major OEMs."
    • Leading mobile fingerprint sensor provider Synaptics (NASDAQ:SYNA) is selling off in response. The decline comes in spite of yesterday's Galaxy S6 reveal and a $10 Cowen target hike (to $105). This morning, Synaptics announced a fingerprint sensor solution for gaming hardware, as well as the availability of its TDDI (integrated touch controller/display driver) offerings for mobile devices.
    • Last week: Qualcomm backs unlicensed 4G spectrum, invests in drone maker
    | 4 Comments
  • Fri, Feb. 27, 6:10 PM
    • Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) states its latest small cell base station chipsets (the FSM99xx family) and a new mobile device RF transceiver (the WTR3950) support 4G usage over the unlicensed 5GHz. band (currently used for Wi-Fi).
    • Though they can't act as a full replacement for mobile networks using licensed spectrum in lower frequency bands (both due to range and capacity limitations), 5GHz. 4G networks, referred to by Qualcomm as LTE-U, could help relieve congestion and act as a longer-range Wi-Fi alternative in high-traffic/density environments such as train stations, malls, and stadiums.
    • Qualcomm adds it has successfully carried out tests "prove co-existence between multiple LTE-U and Wi-Fi access points in ... unlicensed spectrum under extreme load conditions." Phones supporting LTE-U are expected in 1H16.
    • Separately, Qualcomm has led a $50M funding round for 3D Robotics, North America's biggest personal drone maker; 3D's drones will use Qualcomm's Snapdragon processors going forward. The funding comes a couple weeks after the FAA proposed commercial drone rules.
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  • Wed, Feb. 18, 7:02 PM
    • Looking to fend off MediaTek, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), and other hungry rivals, Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) has launched two new 4G baseband/app processors apiece for its mid-range Snapdragon 400 and 600 lines. It has also abandoned its Gobi baseband modem brand in favor of a branding scheme featuring the letter X followed by a number.
    • The Snapdragon 618 and 620 are the first announced parts to use ARM's (NASDAQ:ARMH) recently-launched, high-end, Cortex-A72, CPU core: The 618 features two of them at speeds of up to 1.8GHz., and the 620 four of them at up to 1.8GHz. Both chips also contain four low-power Cortex-A53 cores for less demanding tasks, and an X8 Cat-7 LTE modem (300Mbps downlink). The Gobi 9x45, announced in November, supports Cat-10 LTE (450Mbps downlink).
    • The Snapdragon 415 and 425 each sport four high-power and four low-power Cortex-A53 cores, with the high-power cores respectively clocked at 1.4GHz. and 1.7GHz. The 415 has an X5 Cat. 4 LTE modem (150Mbps downlink), and the 425 an X8 modem.
    • Qualcomm notes the 415/425 are the first 8-core 400 series parts, and that the 618/620 "include features previously only available in the Snapdragon 800 tier, including dual ISP camera, 4K video capture and playback, HEVC hardware encoding, richer gaming ... and advanced Wi-Fi connectivity." AnandTech: "Today Qualcomm raised the bar for low- and mid-range SoCs."
    • The company is just three weeks removed from stating it's "seeing heightened competition in China at the mid and high tiers," as it deals with aggressive pricing from MediaTek, Spreadtrum, and others. Intel is also trying hard to gain ground in China and other emerging markets, both through its low-end SoFIA processors and alliances with Chinese chipmakers.
    | 2 Comments
  • Thu, Feb. 12, 2:00 AM
    • South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission is now investigating Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), adding to the antitrust woes of the U.S. chipmaker following a record $975M fine it agreed to pay China earlier this week.
    • The company is also in the midst of dealing with probes in Europe and the U.S. over how it licenses and sells its technology to clients.
    • In 2009, South Korea’s antitrust agency fined Qualcomm more than $200M for abusing its dominant market position.
    • Previously: China talks to South Korea over Qualcomm violations (Aug. 21 2014)
    | 7 Comments
  • Mon, Feb. 9, 5:29 PM
    • While Qualcomm's (NASDAQ:QCOM) Chinese settlement calls for a 5% royalty rate on multimode 3G/4G devices and a 3.5% rate on other 4G hardware (for "3G and 4G essential Chinese patents"), the rates will be derived from a royalty base of 65% of a device's net selling price.
    • Qualcomm's royalty rates are typically derived from an OEM's full sales price. Apple, whose royalty payments are based on the hardware price charged to the company by its contract manufacturers, is a notable exception.
    • Existing Chinese licensees will have "an opportunity to elect to take the new [license] terms for sales of branded devices for use in China as of January 1, 2015."
    • As part of the settlement, Qualcomm has agreed to expand its existing partnership with Chinese foundry SMIC (NYSE:SMI). Qualcomm struck a deal with SMIC last summer covering the production of 28nm Snapdragon processors.
    • TSMC (NYSE:TSM), Qualcomm's primary foundry partner for many years, could see its sales to Qualcomm for older processors (where TSMC's manufacturing process lead relative to SMIC doesn't factor) affected by the SMIC provision.
    • QCOM now +3% AH. TSM -0.5%
    | 14 Comments
  • Mon, Feb. 9, 4:22 PM
    • Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) will pay RMB6.088B ($975M) to settle the Chinese government's antitrust probe, just a little less than the $1B reported by Reuters.
    • However, the company will get to charge a 5% royalty rate on 3G-capable devices (including multi-mode 3G/4G hardware, which account for a large % of Chinese 4G phones sold today) for access to "3G and 4G essential Chinese patents," 4G devices that don't support 3G CDMA or WCDMA networks will carry a 3.5% rate. However, the royalty is derived from a base of 65% of the device's net selling price.
    • Some fine print: Qualcomm will license its "essential Chinese patents" separately from other patents - that could mean 3G TD-SCDMA patents aren't covered - and negotiate cross-licenses in "good faith." It also won't "condition the sale of baseband chips on the chip customer signing a license agreement with terms that the NDRC found to be unreasonable or on the chip customer not challenging unreasonable terms in its license agreement." However, Qualcomm isn't obligated to sell chips to a non-licensee.
    • The company has also agreed to create "a China-specific investment fund of $150 million to further the development of mobile and semiconductor technologies." It already committed $40M to similar investments in December.
    • FY15 (ends Sep. '15) guidance has been hiked on the low end: Revenue guidance is now at $26.3B-$28B vs. $26B-$28B, and EPS guidance at $4.85-$5.05 vs. $4.75-$5.05.
    • QCOM +2.2% AH to $68.58.
    | 19 Comments
  • Mon, Feb. 9, 11:51 AM
    • "We believe this potential outcome is better than investors feared, and would be consistent with our modeling assumptions used for our F2016 pro-forma EPS estimates," says Canaccord's Mike Walkley (Buy, $84 target) following a Reuters report stating Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) is close to settling with Chinese regulators in exchange for a $1B fine, lower royalty rates, and licensing policy changes.
    • He had already assumed Qualcomm's rate on 5-mode (2G/3G/4G) Chinese phones would fall to 3.25% from 4.5%. Qualcomm typically collects a 3.25% royalty on 4G-only devices, but often gets a higher rate on 3G-capable hardware. Walkley: "With Qualcomm trading in the pre-market at roughly 12x (or 8.5X ex-cash) our F2016 pro forma EPS estimate, we believe the valuation is compelling for longer-term investors."
    • Qualcomm's Chinese troubles are a major reason the company has guided for FY15 EPS of $4.75-$5.05, down from FY14's $5.27. They led the company's licensing division revenue to fall 4% Y/Y in FQ1 to $1.8B, even as chip division sales rose 14% to $5.2B.
    | 4 Comments
  • Mon, Feb. 9, 5:49 AM
    • Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) is likely to pay China a record fine of around $1B to settle violations of a 2008 anti-monopoly law, Reuters reports.
    • The deal, which would likely see Qualcomm lower its royalty rates by around a third on patents used in China and would require the company to make changes to its licensing practices, could be announced as soon as today.
    • Previously: China to settle Qualcomm violations soon (Dec. 26 2014)
    | 11 Comments
  • Mon, Feb. 2, 4:47 PM
    • Hit hard last week due to its soft FY15 guidance, Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) gradually rallied today, closing with a 4.9% gain. Volume (21M shares) was well above a 3-month daily average of 12.3M.
    • Helping Qualcomm's cause: The company announced the Snapdragon 810, all but confirmed last week to be excluded from Samsung's Galaxy S6, has landed 60+ design wins, including for LG's G Flex2 and Xiaomi's Mi Note Pro. Other OEMs using Qualcomm's next-gen flagship baseband/app processor, which features 4 powerful 64-bit cores to go with 4 low-power cores, include Microsoft, Motorola (Lenovo), and OPPO.
    • Also: The WSJ has run a column noting Samsung's decision not to use the 810 was likely motivated at least in part by Samsung's wish to more frequently use its own Exynos processors within its hardware, rather than reported overheating issues.
    • Samsung is counting on the use of the 14nm manufacturing process it developed with Globalfoundries to give an Exynos processor expected to go into the S6 an app performance/power consumption edge; the 810 uses a 20nm TSMC process. Qualcomm, which has maintained a 4G modem performance edge over rivals, reportedly plans to use to use the 14nm process for upcoming processors.
    | 5 Comments
  • Thu, Jan. 29, 12:47 PM
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  • Thu, Jan. 29, 9:12 AM
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  • Wed, Jan. 28, 6:15 PM
    • Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) partly blames its soft FY15 (ends Sep. '15) guidance on "a shift in share among OEMs at the premium tier, which has reduced our near-term opportunity for sales of our integrated Snapdragon" processors." That's undoubtedly a reference to Apple, which (though using Qualcomm's 4G baseband modems and other ICs) relies on its home-grown A-series app processors, and just reported huge FQ1 iPhone sales.
    • The mobile chip/IP giant also cites "heightened competition in China," where its issues are well-known and MediaTek/Intel have been hungry to gain share, and "expectations that our Snapdragon 810 processor will not be in the upcoming design cycle of a large customer's flagship device." Bloomberg has reported Samsung won't use the 810 in its Galaxy S6 (ostensibly due to overheating issues), instead relying on its own (Exynos) processors.
    • In addition to a Snapdragon processor (the 805), Qualcomm supplies a 4G baseband modem and several other ICs for many Galaxy S5 models. It's unknown if Samsung, which has developed an app processor with an integrated 4G baseband, will be using similar Qualcomm parts in the S6.
    • On the bright side, Qualcomm says it has resolved a dispute with a Chinese licensee. But it still believes other Chinese licensees aren't fully complying with their obligations.
    • QCT (chip division) sales rose 14% Y/Y in FQ1 to $5.2B, and division op. profit rose 26% to $1.15B. With China taking a toll, QTL (licensing division) revenue fell 4% to $1.82B, and op. profit 5% to $1.58B.
    • $1.7B was spent on buybacks. Qualcomm ended FQ1 with $31.6B in cash/marketable securities (equal to 29% of its current market cap), and no debt. Shares are down to $65.32 AH.
    • FQ1 results, PR
    | 7 Comments
  • Wed, Jan. 28, 5:35 PM
     
    | 2 Comments
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Company Description
Qualcomm Inc develops digital communication technology called CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access), & owns intellectual property applicable to products that implement any version of CDMA including patents, patent applications & trade secrets.