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Qualcomm Earnings Call

Qualcomm Earnings Call
by Paul McLellan on 01-28-2015 at 9:35 pm

Qualcomm had their earnings call today. There has been a lot of discussion about their business going forward and they lowered guidance. They didn’t say explicitly why but in the usual Kabuik theater of these things this is what they did say:While our outlook for the first half of the fiscal year is ahead of our prior expectations, our QCT forecast for the second half of the fiscal year has been reduced due to a number of factors. First, we are currently seeing a shift in share among OEMs at the premium tier, which has reduced the near term addressable opportunity for our Snapdragon processors and has skewed our product mix towards more modem chipsets in this tier. Second, we now expect that our Snapdragon 810 processor will not be in the upcoming design cycle of a large customer’s flagship device, impacting our outlook for both volume and content in that device.
Translation. Apple’s iPhone 6 is doing much better than expected but Qualcomm only supply the modem and Apple designs their own application processors. So that reduces their revenue possibilities. Also, Samsung look like they will use their own Exynos processor rather than Snapdragon 810. Since Samsung is far and away the volume leader (twice Apple) this is a big loss (although they have a big range of phones at different price points and this chip would not have been in all of them). He continued: And thirdly, although we had a very strong competitive position exiting fiscal 2014, we are seeing heightened competition in China at the mid and high tiers. We are continuing to gain share year-over-year with OEMs based in China, but not at the pace we had previously expected. This is in part due to some product challenges with one of our chips in meeting some of the more demanding design points of those tiers. This has provided an opening to competitors who are being very aggressive in order to establish a position in the marketplace, resulting in more pricing pressure than previously expected.  Translation: actually just a guess. there is some truth to the overheating problems that are part of the reason Samsung switched away. It looks like some other Chinese manufacturers are holding back, or not ramping, or perhaps switching to Taiwanese MediaTek. They are in the Xiaomi Pro Note which should ship in high volume in China based on past experience. But in the Q&A they pretty much denied it: On the 810, let me be very clear. The device is working the way that we expected it work and we have design traction that reflects that. If you look at the number of designs, it’s over 60. It’s essentially won all the premium designs across multiple ecosystems in China, Windows Mobile, as well as Android. So we’re quite pleased with how that is performing. There is a concern. As you mentioned it’s related to one OEM, and I don’t think you should extend that to imply that something has changed fundamentally between us and that OEM. They talked a bit about the problems with the NDRC (Chinese antitrust regulator). Qualcomm invented CDMA pretty much single handedly and have always had an aggressive royalty and patent license program. I negotiated a deal with them in the 1990s and we ended up walking before they got desperate a year later and we eventually got a chip license. NDRC seems to think Qualcomm are abusing their monopoly position on technology and demanding excessive licensing. But who is to say? NDRC has already said they expect the case to be settled soon. Qualcomm also said on the call that many of their Chinese licensees are under-reporting and so they have increased their auditing. SeekingAlpha transcript is here. It is pretty long I have to warn you.

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