They cannot look out far.
They cannot look in deep.
But when was that a bar
To any watch they keep?
-- "Neither Out Far Nor In Deep" by Robert Frost, 1936
In this tribute to National Poetry Month, my favorite poet laureate looked at people on a beach always watching the waters. But he might as well have written these words about Wall Street analysts, always eager to predict the future to totally unreasonable levels of precision.
Nowhere would Frost's observation be more appropriate than in the ever-changing market for mobile computing. Heading into Wednesday's second-quarter report, mobile-chip powerhouse Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM ) has been a moving target for analysts. Thirty-three firms have published earnings estimates for the quarter, landing at a consensus average of $0.89 per share. But that's only after two of our Wall Street heroes upped their targets in the past week alone, and eight boosted their targets since mid-March.
Of course, many of these adjustments were reactions to the new Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iPad, which is selling like hotcakes and sports several important Qualcomm chips inside. But it's not as if Qualcomm really needed another specific catalyst: The company dominates the market for certain types of mobile connectivity thanks to its ubiquitous Snapdragon chipset.
For example, HTC's new flagship phone was designed around the mighty NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA ) Tegra 3 processor, but the AT&T (NYSE: T ) version will swap the Tegra for a Snapdragon to keep up with Ma Bell's 4G LTE network standards.
That's just one example of Qualcomm's long, insidious fingers. Samsung even replaced a processor designed by Sammy itself with a Snapdragon to comply with T-Mobile USA's high-speed network. If that's not a vote of confidence in Qualcomm's products, I don't know what is.
So analysts keep ratcheting up their estimates for Qualcomm, yet they tend to fall short of the real results. Qualcomm has beaten earnings targets in each of the past four quarters and will probably do it again this week. It's hard to come up with a better horse to play in the trillion-dollar arms race of mobile computing than Qualcomm. Learn more about the mobile revolution in this special report, but grab your copy right away, because it won't be free forever.