Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Free Article Join Over 1 Million Premium Members And Get More In-Depth Stock Guidance and Research

Broadcom Ltd (AVGO) Q4 2020 Earnings Call Transcript

By Motley Fool Transcribing - Dec 11, 2020 at 5:31AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

AVGO earnings call for the period ending September 30, 2020.

Logo of jester cap with thought bubble.

Image source: The Motley Fool.

Broadcom Ltd ( AVGO -1.89% )
Q4 2020 Earnings Call
Dec 10, 2020, 5:00 p.m. ET


  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:


Welcome to Broadcom Inc.'s fourth-quarter and fiscal year 2020 financial results conference call. At this time, for opening remarks and introductions, I would like to turn the call over to Beatrice Russotto, director of investor relations for Broadcom Inc. Please go ahead, ma'am.

Beatrice Russotto -- Director of Investor Relations

Thank you, operator, and good afternoon, everyone. Joining me on today's call are Hock Tan, president and CEO, as well as the senior leadership team as announced this afternoon, including Tom Krause, president, Infrastructure Software Group; Charlie Kawwas, chief operating officer, and Kirsten Spears, chief financial officer. Broadcom also distributed a press release and financial tables after the market closed, describing our financial performance for the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2020. If you did not receive a copy, you may obtain the information from the investors section of Broadcom's website at

This conference call is being webcast live, and a recording will be available via telephone playback for one week. It will also be archived in the Investors section of our website at During the prepared comments, Hock, Kirsten and Tom will be providing details of our fourth quarter and fiscal year 2020 results, guidance for our first quarter as well as commentary regarding the business environment. We'll take questions after the end of our prepared comments.

Please refer to our press release today and our filings with the SEC for information on the specific risk factors that could cause our actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statements made on this call. In addition to U.S. GAAP reporting, Broadcom reports certain financial measures on a non-GAAP basis. A reconciliation between GAAP and non-GAAP measures is included in the tables attached to today's press release.

Comments made during today's call will primarily refer to our non-GAAP financial results. And with that, I'll turn the call over to Hock.

Hock Tan -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Bea. Before I discuss our results, I do want to highlight the senior leadership appointments we just made around the same time this afternoon, which is all about ensuring continued growth and success of Broadcom. But first and foremost, as you see here, I'm not going anywhere. I'm as committed and engaged as ever.

But while you often see me and Tom, behind us, we have a very strong bench that has gotten us to where we are today. So today, we are elevating some of this deep bench into critical positions that will strengthen our organization going forward. Tom, Charlie, and Kirsten are among the people who sustain the platform and make the phenomenal numbers I'm about to announce happen. And to showcase our deep bench of talent at Broadcom, starting in fiscal year '21, we plan to organize a series of analyst days on the various businesses where you can hear from our respective general managers about their businesses.

And to kick this off, the first will occur this January, where Ram Velaga and Alexis Björlin will review our networking franchise. With this, let me now turn to our very strong fourth-quarter results. We capped off fiscal 2020 with record quarterly revenue and profitability despite the ongoing pandemic and macroeconomic uncertainties. We delivered net revenue of $6.5 billion, above the midpoint of our guidance and up 11% sequentially and 12% -- up 12% year on year.

Semiconductor solutions revenue was $4.8 billion, increasing 6% year on year and most notably representing a return to year-on-year revenue growth. Infrastructure software revenue was $1.6 billion, up 36% year on year, which, of course, includes the contribution from Symantec. Let me now turn first to semiconductors. Networking, which represented approximately 35% of our semiconductor solution revenue in the quarter, was up 17% year on year, driven by the continued strength in cloud data center spending as well as continued spending by telcos in upgrading Edge and core networks.

Moving on to Q1, we expect this trend of double-digit percentage year-on-year revenue growth to continue even as we expect enterprise campus spending to continue to soften. Turning to broadband, which represented approximately 14% of semiconductor solutions in the quarter. That was up 22% year-on-year. Growth was driven by the work-from-home environment and the need among service providers as well as consumers to upgrade broadband connectivity, too, as well as within the home.

We experienced strong adoption of WiFi 6 in next-generation access gateways in telcos and consumers. In fact, in this environment, WiFi, where we are very well positioned as a leader, has turned into a substantial and growing business for the company. Beyond WiFi, we also experienced strong investment by service providers in GPON, that's fiber-to-the-home, and digital subscriber line copper as well as cable modems among the cable operators. All these more than offset a decline in video.

We expect low to mid-teens percentage year-on-year growth -- revenue growth in broadband for Q1 as demand continues to remain strong. Moving on, wireless revenue, which represented approximately 31% of semiconductor revenue in this quarter, was up 43% sequentially in Q4 with the launch of new-generation flagship phone by a large North American OEM customer. Still, this was down 9% year on year given the one-quarter delay in the ramp of production of that program. Accordingly, we expect Q1 fiscal '21 to now be the peak quarter of this seasonal ramp, and revenue will compare extremely favorably with the same quarter a year ago.

And we expect that to be up over 50% year on year. Turning to server storage connectivity that represented approximately 14% of Q4 semiconductor revenue -- and was down 9% year on year, as expected, reflecting softness in enterprise demand. Turning to Q1, we expect revenue to continue to decline. And given the strong Q1 compare in fiscal '20, we expect this to be down double digits, even as much as perhaps 20%.

Last, turning to industrial, which represented approximately 3% of Q4 semiconductor solution revenue. We're seeing demand recovery, especially out of China, and consolidated resales, and here, we sell through distributors, of course, were up 4% year on year. And we forecast such resales in Q1 to start -- to accelerate to mid-teens year-on-year growth as the recovery in industrial and auto continues. So, in summary, our semiconductor solutions segment was up 6% year on year in Q4, driven primarily by the ramp in wireless as well as continued strength in networking and broadband.

Forecasting Q1, we expect this ramp in wireless to peak, and broadband and networking demand to remain strong. This will drive revenue in the semiconductor segment to increase in Q1 by high-teens percentage year on year. Turning to software. Let me reiterate our business model here.

We focus, as we have said many times, only on the largest enterprise customers and seek to increase the adoption of the software products to a hybrid model, about 90% of which are recurring subscription revenue. We have stepped up investment in R&D focused on just these core customers. And we are able to do that by spending much less on our go-to-market outside of our large core enterprise customers unlike obviously the other software companies who are chasing every last dollar of revenue no matter how much it costs. So, let me tell you -- with two years of CA under our belt, let me tell you how we have done.

Revenue-wise, after two years integrating CA onto our platform, Q4 '20 revenue was up 5% year on year. For Symantec, if you exclude services and hardware, Q4 product revenue of $380 million was up 10% from Q1 fiscal '20, which was obviously our first quarter after acquisition. But if we just look at revenue from our core accounts in CA, this was, in fact, up double digits, closer to 12% year on year, driven by bookings which have continued to grow double digits on an annualized basis. This is obviously -- this book – this growth in core accounts has obviously more than offset the plain decline in services and attrition of accounts outside our core enterprise customers.

That's how we expect to sustain our core software business long term, albeit at low to mid-single-digit percentage revenue growth. But we intend to drive to a financial outcome that is consistent with the Broadcom model. You'll hear more on that from Kirsten when she talks about our financial model. So, looking ahead to next quarter, on a year-on-year basis, we expect CA and Symantec software revenue to continue to grow in the mid-single digits.

However, in Q1 fiscal '21, we expect Brocade to decline high single digits, consistent with softness in enterprise markets, resulting in our infrastructure software segment revenue to be flat to perhaps up low single-digit percentage year over year. In summary, we expect Q1 consolidated net revenue of $6.6 billion, up approximately 13% year over year, all derived organically. Today, we are in a unique situation. We started fiscal 2021 with record backlog that has now grown to over $14 billion today.

But the timing of this conversion of backlog to revenue won't be driven by a supply chain, which continues to be tight. Finally, I want to take the opportunity here to thank our team for all their work in fiscal 2020. This has undoubtedly been a challenging year, and through it all, all of our employees have demonstrated unwavering focus and resilience. Because of their hard work, our mission-critical technologies have never been more relevant than they are today.

And with that, let me turn you over to Kirsten.

Kirsten Spears -- Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Hock. By way of background, while I've been a part of Broadcom for more than six years, my history in accounting and reporting roles from legacy companies, Avago and LSI, dates back over 20 years. I'm proud of the strong finance organization that Broadcom has built and I look forward to working together. I know Hock just gave you the details on revenue, which I'll recap before moving down the P&L to discuss our fourth quarter performance, which clearly demonstrates our strong foundation for future growth.

Consolidated net revenue for the fourth quarter was $6.5 billion, a 12% increase from a year ago. Semiconductor solutions revenue was $4.8 billion and represented 75% of our total revenue this quarter. This was up 6% year-on-year. Revenue for the infrastructure software segment was $1.6 billion and represented 25% of revenue.

This was up 36% year on year given the inclusion of Symantec. Continuing down the P&L. Gross margins were 74% of revenue in the quarter, up approximately 370 basis points year on year. The expansion in gross margin year on year was driven by favorable product mix in semiconductors and a higher percentage of software revenue.

Operating expenses were $1.1 billion, up 10% year on year due primarily to the addition of Symantec. Operating income from continuing operations was $3.6 billion and represented 56% of revenue. Operating margins were up approximately 400 basis points year on year. Adjusted EBITDA was $3.8 billion and represented 59% of revenue.

This figure excludes $139 million of depreciation. Gross margins for our semiconductor solutions segment were approximately 68% in Q4, up 320 basis points year over year, driven by an improved product mix. This mix included more networking products and less wireless. And as you know, wireless carries around 10 points less margin on product profitability than the rest of our semiconductor portfolio.

Operating expenses were $777 million in Q4 or 16% of semiconductor solutions revenue compared to $727 million in the prior-year period as we continued to invest in our business. R&D cost as a percentage of revenue for Q4 was approximately 14%, and SG&A as a percentage of revenue was 2%. Operating margins for our semiconductor solutions segment were 52% in Q4, up 290 basis points year on year. All told, in semiconductor solutions, revenue was up 6% and operating profit grew 12%.

Gross margins for our infrastructure software segment were 90% in Q4, up 130 basis points year-over-year. Cost of revenue primarily includes cost of product support, hosting for our SaaS products, professional services, and hardware. Operating expenses were $338 million in Q4 or 21% of infrastructure software revenue, compared to $290 million or 24% of revenue in the prior year period as we generate scale through the acquisition of Symantec. R&D cost as a percentage of revenue for Q4 was approximately 12%, and SG&A as a percentage of infrastructure software revenue was 9%.

Operating margin was 69% in Q4, up 480 basis points year over year. Our operating margins reflect our model which is about focusing on the largest enterprise customers and increasing our share of their wallet in terms of our software portfolio. Given this model, we are able to focus our R&D investments on a strategic group of customers and, by doing so, reduce costs primarily on go-to-market. This is how we get to operating margin of about 69%, which we believe we can sustain.

Looking at cash flow, we had quarterly free cash flow of $3.2 billion, representing 50% of revenue. This is up 36% year on year as we managed our working capital more tightly during this pandemic. Moving on to capital allocation for Q4. We paid our common stockholders $1.3 billion of cash dividends.

We also paid $185 million in withholding taxes due on vesting of employee equity, resulting in the elimination of approximately 500,000 AVGO shares. We ended the quarter with 407 million outstanding common shares and 451 million diluted shares. Note that we expect the diluted share count to be 450 million in Q1. On the financing and balance sheet front, we reduced total debt by $3 billion in the quarter.

All told, we ended the quarter with $7.6 billion of cash and currently have $12.6 billion of liquidity, including our $5 billion revolver. We ended the quarter with $41.1 billion of total debt, of which approximately $800 million in short term. I'll now turn the call over to Tom.

Tom Krause -- President, Infrastructure Software Group

Thank you, Kirsten. Let me now recap our financial performance for fiscal year 2020. Our revenue hit a new record of $23.9 billion, growing 6% year on year. Semiconductor solutions revenue was $17.3 billion, down 1% year over year.

Infrastructure software revenue was $6.6 billion, which included $1.5 billion from Brocade, which was down 17% year on year; $3.5 billion from CA, which was up 4% year on year; and addition of Symantec, which was $1.6 billion. Gross margin for the year was a record-high of 73.5%, up from 71% a year ago. The addition of Symantec as well as a beneficial mix in semiconductor product sales drove the gross margin expansion. Additionally, operating expenses were $4.6 billion, which included the addition of Symantec.

Operating income from continuing operations was $12.9 billion, up 8% year-over-year and represented 54% of net revenue. Adjusted EBITDA was $13.6 billion, up 8% year-over-year and represented 57% of net revenue. This figure excludes $570 million in depreciation. We accrued $644 million of restructuring and integration expenses and made $583 million of cash restructuring and integration payments in fiscal 2020.

We spent $463 million on capital expenditures, and free cash flow represented 49% of revenue or $11.6 billion. Free cash flow grew 25% year over year. Now onto capital allocation. For the year, we returned $6 billion to our common stockholders, consisting of $5.2 billion in the form of cash dividends and $800 million for the elimination of 2.6 million AVGO shares.

We also paid $299 million in dividends to our preferred stockholders. I would also note through the refinancing and liability management activities we've undertaken this year, our weighted average debt maturity is now approximately six years with a weighted average interest rate of approximately 3.5%. Looking ahead to fiscal 2021, we remain committed to returning approximately 50% of our prior-year normalized free cash flow to stockholders in the form of cash dividends. With that, on the dividend, based on approximately $12 billion of free cash flow in fiscal year 2020, we are increasing our target quarterly common stock cash dividend, starting this quarter, to $3.60 per share.

This constitutes an increase of 11% and assumes a basic outstanding share count of 413 million shares at the end of fiscal 2021. We plan to maintain this dividend payout throughout this year, subject to quarterly board approval. Consistent with our capital allocation policy, we will reassess the dividend this time next year based on our fiscal '21 free cash flow results. With that, I'll turn the call back over to Bea.

Beatrice Russotto -- Director of Investor Relations

Thank you, Tom. At this time, we'll open the call for questions. We have Hock, Tom, Kirsten, and Charlie available to answer any questions. So, operator, please go ahead and kick us off.

Questions & Answers:


Thank you so much. [Operator instructions] Our first question will come from Craig Hettenbach with Morgan Stanley. Please go ahead.

Craig Hettenbach -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

A question for Hock. I think on the call a year ago, you talked about an increase in R&D investment in those areas in cloud, photonics, I think wireless infrastructure. So, I just wanted to get an update on how that's progressing and the visibility into kind of revenue from that R&D investment.

Hock Tan -- President and Chief Executive Officer

OK. That's a very good question. And the investment, we -- the cadence of the investment we're doing continues in areas that we see as very strategic in various businesses. And you've seen some of that coming out as we continue to do so.

For instance, last week, we announced the introduction and ramp -- and introduction availability of the -- our 800-gig platform for switching, routing, and interconnects, and the basic size, retimers and all that, that goes hand in hand with it. So, all about launching 800-gig platform and that comes in the form of our new product, Tomahawk 4. And it's pretty interesting that we're launching it now because our previous generation, which is at 400-gig platform, Tomahawk 3, which we introduced over a year ago, of course, a year and a half ago, is just starting to ramp. We then will have -- in terms -- into a larger market.

And we're already launching an 800 gig. So, the speed and -- the regularity and the speed at which we are pushing this product is definitely something we intend to keep where we're coming out with a newer generation, probably -- that is probably 2x throughput capacity and the regularity of 18 months to two years on a consistent basis because that's what our hyper cloud customers want. And it makes sense because we need to scale our data centers as CPUs start to hit the limitation of the Moore's Law. Now, that's one example.

As part of that, as we indicated a year ago, we're stepping our investment in areas of silicon photonics, basically to enable interconnects at very high throughput, at very high bandwidth. And that's been going very, very well. It's a multiyear investment. And as we indicated -- from the last time we talked about it, we are now only on the second year, but we expect to have something that will make -- that will be out to the marketplace within a generation or two of our platforms in switching and routing.

And that's on that aspect of it. In terms of further investments, we have stepped up investment, as I indicated in my report, on WiFi, on connectivity of basically 802.11ax now. And we launched that platform two years ago, and very successful. And we're already working on -- and we have invested a lot on the next-generation WiFi 7, successor to this WiFi 6.

In between, we're putting out 6-gigahertz WiFi, that's WiFi 6E, which is the spectrum bandwidth recently was approved by the FCC not long ago. And we already have our first product certified by the FCC recently. We're the first out there. So, we intend to be in the lead, for instance, in this wireless connectivity, which by the way, today, as I indicated, represents a very substantial and growing part of our business.

And it's a testimonial to the reliable investment and success we've gotten in this area. And so, these are some of the things that we have. And most of this investments are multiyear, but you do start to see some of the bands, some of the products, some of the launches, some of the revenues starting to come in with this level of investments we are making in here.


Thank you. Our next question will come from Vivek Arya with Bank of America Securities. Please go ahead.

Vivek Arya -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Thanks for taking my question, and good luck to Tom and Kirsten and Charlie in your new roles. Hock, the question is for you on supply constraints that several of your peers in semiconductors have mentioned, whether it's in substrates or wafers or foundry capacity. I'm curious where does Broadcom stand on this. Is supply a factor in your reported results or your Q1 outlook or something that you think can constrain the growth in fiscal '21? Just what steps are you taking to make sure it doesn't constrain growth and also, on the other side, make sure customers are not double ordering because of all these supply issues? Thank you.

Hock Tan -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Well, interesting question. We reported on -- by the way, we reported on this supply constraint at least three months ago when we did our earnings call, in fact probably even earlier than that. We have seen -- probably even two quarters ago. We have seen that supply constraint.

And we were one of first to report on it. And that supply constraint continues from when we first touched on it six months ago. And it's -- in some area, it just seems to revolve in different specific areas, where it is. We talked about wafers then.

Since then, as you correctly pointed out. And we hear in the news substrate is a consideration. And believe me, beyond that, wire-bonding is even a possible constraint, depending on whether – like, it's more and more automotive legacy products come in. So, we operate in an environment, and I mentioned in my remarks, that it's fairly unique.

Here, we are in the middle of a pandemic. Here, we are where there are winners and losers even in the product lines, even in the industry we're in, where there are some businesses where demand is just booming. So, we touched on that in networking, in broadband, and some areas, particularly in enterprise, where they're not so strong. But what we also see is a supply -- a capacity from our supply chain that is tight.

That's what we're doing. And we have seen that for months, and we have taken a lot of actions to have address it, and we continue to do that. We're also one of the largest consumer of those third-party manufacturers in semiconductors out there, be they wafers, be they substrates, be they back-end assembly or test capacity, we are all in there, and we've been seeing it for six months. So best answer is we're managing that.

We have -- having said that, we have the backlog in place. And we have also, very early on, in our fiscal '20, stretched out a supply chain not only based on what we're seeing but based on what we anticipate happening. And that's -- has also enabled us to be able to, in a more orderly manner, in what I consider a more appropriate manner, put products in the hands of end users who need it at the appropriate time. We've done that very well.

And having said all that, even as we do it, our backlog continues to grow. To give you a sense, I mentioned we have $14 billion -- over $14 billion of backlog today. When we started the quarter, our backlog -- and we're shipping in between since then, beginning of the quarter, our backlog was $12 billion. So, it's accelerating.

But having said that, please don't get carried away in the other aspect. As you know, wireless business that we have is seasonal. So, we are seeing -- obviously, wireless -- our wireless backlog is a significant part of a total backlog. But given the seasonality of it, we obviously have seen a deceleration in the bookings that are coming in from our wireless business.

But we are seeing, on the other side, acceleration and continued strength in orders coming in from the other parts of our business. Networking has always remained strong. Broadband continues to be very strong. And now we start to see the smaller part of our business, industrial, coming in very, very strong.

So, one side is offsetting the other. And we continue to see this strong backlog, which in a way makes our planning in our supply chain easiest, but in some ways poses other challenges of making sure we are delivering products to the right consumer -- customers at the right time.


Thank you. Our next question will come from Harlan Sur with JPMorgan. Please go ahead.

Harlan Sur -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

Good afternoon. Great job on the quarterly execution, and congratulations to all on the executive appointments. Hock, you know, we're still at the very start of the 400-gig networking upgrade cycle with your hyperscale customers. It seems like telco service providers are also starting to adopt the white box switch and routing model, which is good for your Tomahawk and Jericho chipsets.

And then you guys are also benefiting from the optical connectivity that goes along with your switching solutions. Beyond this quarter, do you see sustainability of the networking upgrade and spending cycle through next year? And then given the wafer and substrate constraints, are your lead times in networking expanding beyond six months now?

Hock Tan -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Very good question, Harlan. And thank you for your kind words. To answer the first part, yeah, we -- our new product generation, you know, in 400G platform, as I mentioned earlier, is starting to ramp up in a big way this coming -- this fiscal '21. It started in '20 with a couple of large hyperscale customers, and it's been a -- and it started ramping up with many more fiscal '21, and I'm sure it goes on to '22.

And we do not see a slowdown in the demand. And you're correct. Operator -- service provider and operators are also adopting these merchant silicon India routing platforms on their networks, as I mentioned, particularly in core as well as Edge. And we're seeing extreme -- very, very good demand and success, as evidenced by the backlog and orders we are getting from service providers and not just hyper cloud, particularly service providers on our merchant silicon Jericho family.

So that's good. And do I see that continuing? Probably as far as you can see, '21. We have -- our lead times is now beyond six months, to answer your question. So -- and just to add a further thought, we have a policy in this company that we -- and adhere to very, very strictly for both -- because of financial governance.

Any orders placed on us do not -- we do not allow to be canceled. All our customers know that. All our partners know that. So, we're actually seeing real demand out there at least six months.

And that brings us pretty close to the second -- to the -- or that brings us, in fact, to the second half of fiscal '21 at that point and, I guess as many of you will know, just in time for the beginning of a seasonal ramp of the next-generation wireless products. So, our '21 visibility appears to be remarkably better than we usually have at this point in the beginning of our fiscal year.


Thank you. Our next question will come from Stacy Rasgon with Bernstein Research. Please go ahead.

Stacy Rasgon -- Bernstein Research -- Analyst

Hey, guys. Thanks for taking my questions. I had a question on the wireless trajectory. Last quarter, just given the change in seasonality, you had given us a little bit of color -- actually on this quarter, you said it would probably still grow sequentially.

How should we think about the seasonality into -- I guess, is it the May quarter or February just especially given there seems to have been a pushout. It looks like wireless in Q4 was -- actually came in a little lower than you had expected, and it sounds like some of that's pushing into Q1. So, can you -- I guess, given those dynamics and given that's the seasonal peak in Q1, can you give us some idea, similar to what you did last quarter, on what to expect for the wireless trajectory into fiscal Q2?

Hock Tan -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Well, that's a tough question. And to begin with, we generally don't talk much about Q2, though I did give you guys some indication based on backlog we're sitting today why it's unlikely to flow. But I mean, you're right. I mean, we have this $14 billion of backlog, which continues to grow.

And substantially, most of it -- a lot of it will be filled between Q1 and Q2, to begin with in a bigger picture. But in the way you ask in respect of wireless, you're correct also in pointing out when we do year-on-year comparisons now, it's very interesting because the Q4 fiscal '20, the quarter we just finished and reporting on, becomes the first quarterly ramp of our wireless business, and it compares to Q4 fiscal '19, which in typical cycles in the past is you see the peak quarter of revenue seasonally for our wireless business. So, you're comparing an initial ramp against a peak quarter. And that's down, as I indicated, 9% year on year.

The big ramp now for this current generation of phones in our wireless business will be our Q1, the quarter we are in now. And that compares to the Q1 of fiscal '20 now, which is post big ramp of the last generation, which is why I also indicated we're likely to see a 50 -- around a 50% year-on-year step-up in our wireless revenue. Now we go on to Q2 -- and I think people -- probably things get back to more normalcy, and as always, expect wireless to demonstrate a seasonally -- seasonality as probably the bottom quarter of an annual cycle.


Thank you. Our next question will come from John Pitzer with Credit Suisse. Please go ahead.

John Pitzer -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Yeah. Good afternoon, Hock. Glad to see that you're sticking around. I guess I want to ask some of the questions around the management change and specifically Tom's new position.

I'm just kind of curious what that might mean for the software infrastructure business longer term and whether or not there's any sort of plan to potentially actually spin that business out. And I asked the question because, clearly, when you look at the core IP you have in your silicon business around I/O, around acceleration and how important those IP blocks are, when you look at the sum of the part valuation of overall Broadcom, it just looks dirt cheap. You've doubled the operating margins in the software businesses since you acquired those companies, and you've got great franchises in silicon, and yet you're trading at a big discount. Is there a belief that perhaps the best way to get value longer term for these businesses might be a spin? And is that part of the rationale behind Tom's new position?

Hock Tan -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Oh, no. I love the fact that you speculate so vividly here. But no, there's no plan. I think it's just that the software businesses, especially go-to-market, is a very interesting play for this company because Broadcom, as a whole, and you look at us, we have around $20 billion, $25 billion roughly, give or take, a few billion in revenues, each one year.

We're a technology company, purveyors out there, technology suppliers to an ecosystem. And by that, I mean, an ecosystem addresses end users, be they hyper cloud, be they service providers, or be they basic, large -- while we tend to focus large enterprises out there, like the banks, insurance companies, travel agency, whatever the end user. We look at this as our eventual end-use customers. That's our ecosystem.

And as key product ecosystem, we have partners with the OEMs. Some distributors, but largely, our key partners are on the OEMs. And these are our partners. These are, in a way, important partners that we often sell our products with and through.

We look at it that way. So, when you look at it that way, end-use software, infrastructure software, is no different than the silicon solutions, hardware and software tied to it that we sell out there. It's just that we tend to sell silicon software through partners, with partners who wrap in a system and go to end users versus infrastructure software, where we tend to go direct though not all the time. Sometimes, we go with [Inaudible] GS service providers like IBM, GTS or DXC that sells it through, but ultimately, those end users who uses our software.

And we look at ecosystem that way, it makes total logical sense that we have a unified platform that does everything across. Because at the end of the day, we are still fulfilling to the same end users, whether they are semiconductor hardware solutions with software developer kit, SDK, or other operating system or straight infrastructure software, some with appliances too, I could add. And so that, to me -- to us, long term, it's very logical they stay together.


Thank you. Our next question will come from Ross Seymore with Deutsche Bank. Please go ahead.

Ross Seymore -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Hey, thanks for letting me ask a question.Congrats to all the senior appointments. I guess this one could be for Hock, Tom or Kirsten. I want to talk about the capital allocation side. Versus a year ago, you've delevered the balance sheet, pushed out the maturities, locked in some good rates.

So, there doesn't seem to be an issue there. You're comfortable enough to raise your dividend significantly. So, I wanted to hear what your thoughts are, especially given the pandemics and what's going on with the backlog being as large as it is, as far as how are you thinking about the other half of your capital. Any sort of update given the environment? Or is it as simple as you're just going to focus on either giving it back with shareholder returns via buybacks or do a deal?

Tom Krause -- President, Infrastructure Software Group

Hey, Ross. It's Tom. I'll take that one. I think it's very much back to business as usual.

I think obviously, 2020, we got into the crisis mode earlier in the year. I think we focused a lot on pushing out maturities. We, you know, added the balance sheet from a liquidity standpoint, which we continue to do. And, you know, the markets were very favorable and we're able to do all that.

I think obviously, business also came back and performed quite well. And as Hock's talked about, we've got a decent amount of visibility in the first half, and we'll see what happens in the second half. But, you know, it seems like the year is set up for a reasonable amount of success. And so, I think with that in mind, we're comfortable with our investment-grade credit rating.

We have delevered. We paid down $3 billion of debt in Q4. We're upping the dividend, as you mentioned, and sticking to the policy of giving back about 50% of free cash flow. So that's going to leave us with some excess cash.

And we always look at it as, you know, what are the right relative returns and what's best for shareholders. And that usually means buying back stock or doing M&A. And I think we'll certainly look at doing both. You know, we're biased toward acquisitions historically, and I think we'll continue to be so as long as we can find the right targets and generate the right returns consistent with our business model.

So, I'd really say business as usual, Ross.


Thank you. Our next question will come from Timothy Arcuri with UBS. Please go ahead.

Timothy Arcuri -- UBS -- Analyst

Hi. I guess I wanted to follow on John's question. So, you know, in addition to, you know, the management changes, you're pretty much giving us a full segment P&L, which you've never done before. So, I guess the question is, why now? Is there some investor feedback on maybe that the segmentation will drive a better multiple? I mean, for sure, the stock is very inexpensive.

And it seems like, you know, sum of the parts would be a better way to value it. But is there some feedback that's giving you the -- driving you to sort of break out a segment P&L? Thanks.

Hock Tan -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Tim, you answered your own question perfectly. Yes. We're doing it because we feel that we should give more disclosures, more specifics of our various businesses. As you noticed, in addition to giving full P&L, almost full P&L to the extent there is, because there's also some amount of allocation.

But we try to be very representative of our two large -- of our two segments, semiconductors and infrastructure software. You will notice that we've been, especially in semiconductors, we give you a lot now more color and breakdown on what drives, what -- which are the particular end-market applications in semiconductors and the behavior and the dynamics in each of those verticals. And something we understand we have been perhaps more lacking in the past, which we try to remedy now by giving you guys much more details. And it's also -- in this particular environment, it is very, very important.

I think we give it because I cannot say that all cylinders are firing like crazy. Because as you all know, we all know, they're not in this environment. We have some cylinders -- and as we indicated very lastly, there are some areas where we're very, very -- where it's performing very, very well. And it's performing very well, I should quickly hasten to add, not because we are super good in it, which we are, but we're also super good in the other areas that are not performing as well also.

It's just the economy. It's the macro economy, the demand and unusual situation we're all in. And so, we felt it is appropriate to give you guys more specifics what's driving the overall revenue and what has changed. Because as I also indicated in my last earnings call, when we began this year, we had a certain set of expectations, which has dramatically changed now that we finished the year.

I expected -- I had expected semiconductor as an industry to recover from downturns of 2019, obviously, and that 2020 will be a slow, steady recovery, accelerating into the back end. What we didn't expect is, in actual numbers, it did recover but not everything recovered. And it's -- in a sense, it's a response to the requirements, the situation of a pandemic and a work-from-home environment. And so, we see those businesses that are doing it doing superbly.

And to really explain it, we felt we had to give you more disclosures and which we are. And if we start giving you disclosure and as I give you -- go all the way and show you where -- even how the segment -- the two broad segment P&L look like. And one of the other things we want to also demonstrate to you guys, loud and clear, is that we have a business model in mind, a thesis, investment thesis when we go and bind these specific software companies, some of which may not be in favor when we bought them. But what we're looking at as we look at semiconductors is that these are very sustainable franchises, which with the right approach, with the right model, and the right focus, which we like to think what we described to you as the approach we're taking, that we can make them into real, sustainable franchises and generate the kind of cash and profit returns that we are demonstrating to you today and that those are sustainable.


Thank you. And our final question today will come from Toshiya Hari with Goldman Sachs. Please go ahead.

Toshiya Hari -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Hi, guys. Thank you so much for squeezing me in. I had a follow-up question for Tom. Now that you'll be leading the software business going forward, what are the one or two top priorities for you in running that business? And a clarification question.

I think, Hock, in your prepared remarks, you talked about the long-term growth rate in your software business being in the low to mid-single digits. Is that an organic number, or does that include M&A? And then on M&A, Tom, if you can speak to the pipeline and software and your thoughts on valuation today, that would be helpful. Thank you so much.

Tom Krause -- President, Infrastructure Software Group

There was just so many questions, I can barely remember the first one, but I -- look, I'm excited. I think we've got a great team bringing together the go-to-market and the business units under one umbrella. I think it will allow us to scale, continue to grow, which we've been doing. We've had some early success.

We've got a lot to learn. And so, I think this position us well, and I'm looking forward to it. Beyond that, we'll take all the other follow-up questions on the call -- back call, but thanks very much.


Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for participating in today's question-and-answer session. I would now like to turn the call back over to Ms. Beatrice Russotto for any closing remarks.

Beatrice Russotto -- Director of Investor Relations

Thank you, operator. So, in closing, we did want to note that we'll be kicking off the presentation by our General Managers at the JPMorgan Tech Forum on Tuesday, January 12. Hock will be joined by Ram Velaga and Alexis Björlin from our networking division to present at that event. So, thank you.

That will conclude our earnings call today. And operator, you may end the call.


[Operator signoff]

Duration: 54 minutes

Call participants:

Beatrice Russotto -- Director of Investor Relations

Hock Tan -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Kirsten Spears -- Chief Financial Officer

Tom Krause -- President, Infrastructure Software Group

Craig Hettenbach -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Vivek Arya -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Harlan Sur -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

Stacy Rasgon -- Bernstein Research -- Analyst

John Pitzer -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Ross Seymore -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Timothy Arcuri -- UBS -- Analyst

Toshiya Hari -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

More AVGO analysis

All earnings call transcripts

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis – even one of our own – helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Broadcom Limited Stock Quote
Broadcom Limited
$553.68 (-1.89%) $-10.66

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning service.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 12/01/2021.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Our Most Popular Articles

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with the Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from the Motley Fool's premium services.