What happened

Shares of NXP Semiconductors (NASDAQ:NXPI) fell as much as 11.6% on Thursday morning, following the release of unimpressive first-quarter results. That means the Netherlands-based maker of chips for embedded and automotive computing environments is trading 27% below Qualcomm's (NASDAQ:QCOM) buyout offer of $127.50 per share.

So what

In the first quarter of 2018, NXP's sales rose 3% year over year to land at $2.27 billion. The analyst consensus had called for $2.34 billion. GAAP earnings plunged to $0.17 per diluted share, down from $3.79 per share in the year-ago period. The company did not provide an adjusted earnings figure, but doing the tax and per-share math on its published non-GAAP operating income lands in the vicinity of Wall Street's $1.67 estimate. At best, that's a mixed quarter.

Two businessmen attempt to fit large puzzle pieces together, emblazoned with the logos of NXP and Qualcomm.

Will these puzzle pieces ever fit together? Image source: Getty Images, Qualcomm, and NXP, edited together by the author.

Now what

The lack of an easy-to-use adjusted earnings figure is not helping NXP's stock today. Most of the difference between GAAP and non-GAAP operating profits came from purchase price adjustments of the goodwill value assigned to the 2015 buyout of Freescale Semiconductor. This is actually a common theme in NXP's quarterly reports and shouldn't come as a surprise to seasoned investors.

Three of NXP's four reporting segments saw double-digit percentage growth compared to the first quarter of 2017. The laggard -- secure interface and infrastructure -- reported 12% lower sales.

That being said, the lack of progress in NXP's merger with Qualcomm continues to weigh on this stock, and the limited amount of new merger information in this release probably played a larger part in today's plunging share price than the actual report. In short, NXP CEO Rick Clemmer said that he still expects the deal to close in due time, pending approval from one last regulatory body in China. The closing deadline was recently expended by three months. On July 26, Qualcomm would owe NXP a termination fee of $2 billion unless the deal either closed or was re-extended by then.

So NXP is trading more than 25% below Qualcomm's all-cash buyout bid at this point with just one more real hurdle to clear. The deal could still fail, mostly as a result of gamesmanship between Chinese and American politicians, but today's share prices offer a significant discount even if that happens and NXP must carry on as a separate business.

These shares suddenly look like a reasonable investment again.

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.