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Pro Research: Wall Street takes a closer look at Qualcomm

Published Dec 05, 2023 08:52
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In the bustling semiconductor industry, QUALCOMM Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOM) stands out as a key player, particularly known for its wireless technology prowess and a strong foothold in the smartphone market. With the industry at a critical juncture, marked by rapid technological advancements and shifting market dynamics, Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM)'s strategic moves and financial health are under intense scrutiny. This analysis delves into the company's performance, product segments, competitive landscape, market trends, regulatory environments, and management strategies, aiming to provide potential investors with a comprehensive understanding of Qualcomm's position and prospects.

Company Profile and Market Position

Qualcomm's reputation in the digital wireless communications equipment sector is formidable, thanks to its intellectual property in CDMA and orthogonal frequency division multiplexing access technologies. The company's integrated circuits, based on CDMA technology, are essential for a range of applications, including workforce tracking, asset management, and wireless content enablement. Qualcomm's market position is further bolstered by its Snapdragon 5G Modem-RF Systems, which are integral to the current and upcoming smartphone launches.

Strategic Partnerships and Agreements

A significant feather in Qualcomm's cap is the extension of its supply agreement with tech giant Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), which now runs through FY27. This deal is not just about numbers; it's a testament to Qualcomm's technological leadership and the strategic importance of its products. Analysts view this extended partnership as a bridge to a more diversified revenue profile for Qualcomm, particularly in the automotive sector, with the potential to create sustainable earnings and robust annual cash flow.

Financial Health and Stock Performance

The financial estimates paint a positive picture, with adjusted diluted EPS showing a steady climb from the actual FY22 figure of $12.53 to an estimated $10.93 in FY25. Qualcomm's stock has demonstrated resilience, with a 4% uptick year-to-date, although it has seen an 11% decline over the last twelve months. Trading at a multiple below its five-year average, the company appears undervalued relative to its earnings power, according to analysts.

Product Segments and Diversification

Beyond handsets, Qualcomm has been making inroads into the automotive and PC markets. The company's long-term optionality is a standout, with secure design wins in auto and potential in PCs. Qualcomm's exclusivity agreement with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) for Arm-based Windows PCs, set to expire in 2024, is a key area of focus. The Snapdragon Summit, starting October 24, is expected to shed light on Qualcomm's strategies in this segment post-exclusivity period.

Competitive Landscape and Market Trends

The competitive landscape for Qualcomm is complex, with the handset market nearing a cyclical trough after a prolonged period of inventory correction. Qualcomm's edge lies in its long-term agreements and diversification efforts, which provide a cushion against the intense competition as 5G matures. However, the company must navigate the risks of a permanent Android share loss to Apple and the pressure to use domestic suppliers in China.

Regulatory Environment and External Factors

Qualcomm's reliance on third-party foundries introduces risks, such as potential production limitations or increasing costs. Additionally, the company must contend with the challenges of enforcing essential patent licenses. Economic slowdowns, affecting consumer and corporate spending on smartphone upgrades, also pose a threat to Qualcomm's revenue streams.

Bear Case

Are Qualcomm's handset revenues at risk?

The handset segment, despite being a major revenue generator for Qualcomm, faces long-term risks from increased competition and the maturation of 5G technology. As 5G technology becomes more widespread, the entry of new players could dilute Qualcomm's market share, affecting its profitability and unit shipments. Moreover, a shift in market preference towards Apple's devices could shrink Qualcomm's total addressable market, impacting its long-term revenue potential in the handset business.

Can Qualcomm sustain growth amid economic headwinds?

Qualcomm's reliance on the broader smartphone market, which is currently experiencing pressures, raises concerns about its ability to sustain growth. An economic downturn could lead to reduced consumer and corporate spending on smartphone upgrades, directly impacting Qualcomm's bottom line. Additionally, operational expenditure improvements may be limited, as maintaining the Apple business requires significant resources, potentially constraining profitability.

Bull Case

How will Qualcomm's agreement with Apple impact its future?

The extended supply agreement with Apple is a significant win for Qualcomm, ensuring a stable revenue stream and reinforcing its position in the iPhone ecosystem until at least 2026. This deal is expected to contribute substantially to Qualcomm's earnings, with an estimated $1.50 added to EPS from the Apple QCT business alone. The agreement also underscores Qualcomm's technological prowess and its ability to secure long-term commitments from industry giants.

Does Qualcomm have growth potential beyond smartphones?

Qualcomm's diversification strategy, particularly its forays into the automotive and PC sectors, positions the company for growth beyond its traditional smartphone market. The company's expertise in modem development, especially amidst evolving 5G standards, provides it with a competitive edge. With secure design wins in the auto industry and potential in PCs, Qualcomm has multiple avenues for revenue expansion and EPS reacceleration.

SWOT Analysis

Strengths:

  • Strong supply agreement with Apple extending through FY27.
  • Technological leadership in CDMA and 5G Modem-RF Systems.
  • Diversification into automotive and PC sectors.

Weaknesses:

  • Exposure to risks from the maturation of 5G technology.
  • Dependence on third-party foundries for production.
  • Economic sensitivity of the smartphone market.

Opportunities:

  • Potential for significant free cash flow generation.
  • Optionality from long-term agreements and diversification efforts.
  • Expansion into new markets post-smartphone exclusivity agreements.

Threats:

  • Increased competition in the handset market.
  • Apple's internal modem development efforts.
  • Regulatory and geopolitical tensions affecting market dynamics.

Analysts Targets

  • Wolfe Research: Outperform; $145 (September 18, 2023).
  • Barclays Capital Inc.: Overweight; $140 (September 12, 2023).
  • Rosenblatt Securities Inc.: $145 (September 11, 2023).
  • Evercore ISI: In Line; $140 (September 11, 2023).
  • Deutsche Bank Securities Inc.: Hold; $120 (September 11, 2023).

The timeframe for this analysis spans from September to October 2023.

InvestingPro Insights

As investors consider Qualcomm's (NASDAQ:QCOM) position in the competitive semiconductor landscape, recent data from InvestingPro offers additional insights into the company's financial metrics and market valuation. Qualcomm's market capitalization stands at a robust $144.63 billion, reflecting its significant presence in the industry. With a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 19.95, the company trades at a valuation that suggests investor confidence in its earnings potential, which is further underscored by an adjusted P/E ratio for the last twelve months as of Q4 2023 of 17.83.

InvestingPro Tips highlight Qualcomm's strong historical performance, including a high return on invested capital and a track record of raising its dividend for 21 consecutive years, indicating a commitment to returning value to shareholders. Additionally, 16 analysts have revised their earnings projections upwards for the upcoming period, signaling optimism about the company's future performance. Qualcomm also stands out with a high return on assets, suggesting efficient use of its asset base to generate profits.

For investors seeking more in-depth analysis and additional InvestingPro Tips, an InvestingPro subscription is now available at a special Cyber Monday sale with discounts of up to 60%. To further sweeten the deal, use the coupon code research23 to get an additional 10% off a 2-year InvestingPro+ subscription. With 14 more InvestingPro Tips available, subscribers can gain a comprehensive understanding of Qualcomm's investment potential.

This article was generated with the support of AI and reviewed by an editor. For more information see our T&C.

Pro Research: Wall Street takes a closer look at Qualcomm
 

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