Why Qualcomm Has Predicted Its Q4 Sales Will Be Below Market Estimates

Qualcomm forecast fourth-quarter sales below market expectations on Wednesday and said it would likely cut jobs as consumer spending on gadgets like smartphones remained stubbornly weak amid slowing global economic growth.

The San Diego, California-based company said it also expects no further sales to Chinese telecom giant Huawei [HWT.UL] because it does not have a license to sell 5G chips to Huawei. More broadly in China, a slower-than-expected economic recovery weighed on orders to Qualcomm. Smartphone shipments in the world’s second-largest economy were down 5 percent in the June quarter, Canalys data showed.

Qualcomm said its forecast also takes into account the impact of macroeconomic headwinds, weaker global handset units, and the fact that phone makers are using existing inventory rather than putting in fresh chip orders.

On a conference call with investors, Chief Financial Officer Akash Palkhiwala said Qualcomm’s forecast for the rest of the year assumes no “material revenue” from Huawei.

“As you are aware we have a 4G license for shipping into Huawei. We do not have a 5G license, and we are not assuming any material revenue going forward,” Palkhiwala said.

The company estimated fourth-quarter revenue of $8.1 billion to $8.9 billion (roughly Rs. 66,978 crore), while analysts polled by Refinitiv expected $8.70 billion (roughly Rs. 71,949 crore). Qualcomm forecast a fourth-quarter adjusted earnings range with a midpoint of $1.90 (roughly Rs. 157), in line with analysts’ consensus estimate of $1.91 (roughly Rs. 158) per share according to Refinitiv data.

Qualcomm warned of likely restructuring charges for job cuts.

“While we are in the process of developing our plans, we currently expect these actions to consist largely of workforce reductions, and in connection with any such actions we would expect to incur significant additional restructuring charge,” the company said in a securities filing.

Qualcomm shares fell about 7 percent in choppy extended trading.

At a conference in May, Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon said he had not seen signs of healthy consumption in China yet and the smartphone industry recovery was “a number of quarters out.”

Qualcomm rival MediaTek last week warned that phone manufacturers are “cautious” about buying chips due to tepid end-user demand.

Qualcomm said on Wednesday it expected the use of existing inventory by phone makers “will be a factor through the end of the calendar year.”

Qualcomm shares fell amid a broader sell-off in tech and chip stocks, with Philadelphia SE Semiconductor Index slipping 3.5 percent. Analysts are expecting Apple to report its largest fiscal third-quarter revenue drop since 2016 later this week as iPhone sales slow in the US and elsewhere.

But other chip firms are seeing different results. Shares of Qorvo, which also supplies wireless chips to smartphone makers, rose 4 percent in extended trading after its forecast beat analysts’ expectations and CEO Bob Bruggeworth said it had won more business with its “largest customer,” which is Apple. Apple. NXP last week reported better-than-expected results partly on the strength of Apple orders.

CEO Amon said the company will be supplying modem chips for Apple’s next iPhone.

Kinngai Chan, the analyst at Summit Insights Group, said Huawei is not a large Qualcomm customer and the US company’s stock declined because its outlook is “much weaker than expectations” amid flat Android handset sales.

Revenue at Qualcomm’s mainstay handset chip business fell 25 percent to $5.26 billion (roughly Rs. 15843,489 crore) in the third quarter. Adjusted overall revenue of $8.44 billion (roughly Rs. 69,788 crore) missed estimates of $8.50 billion (roughly Rs. 70,284 crore).

It forecast adjusted fourth-quarter earnings per share of $1.80 (roughly Rs. 148) and $2 (roughly Rs. 165), compared to estimates of $1.91 (roughly Rs. 158).

The automotive sector was a bright spot as Qualcomm seeks to diversify beyond smartphone chips. Revenue from the sector grew 13 percent on the increasing use of computer chips in vehicles. 

© Thomson Reuters 2023 

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