Shares of semiconductor giant Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) dropped 12.3% in the first half of 2018, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. That final tally actually reflects a bit of a recovery -- at its worst, Qualcomm's stock plunged as much as 24.1% lower near the end of April.
Qualcomm investors have endured a tumultuous year so far. The company staved off a hostile takeover attempt by industry peer Broadcom by means of an executive order from the Trump administration, raised its own buyout bid for Netherlands-based embedded chip specialist NXP Semiconductors (NASDAQ:NXPI) to secure stronger support from NXP's shareholders, and saw regulatory bodies taking two steps forward and one step back on whether the NXP deal should be allowed to close.
So Qualcomm's roller-coaster stock chart makes perfect sense when you consider the turmoil this company is experiencing.
Along the way, Qualcomm has been reporting consistently solid business results. Investors are largely ignoring that fact because so much of the company's future hangs on completing the NXP deal. The idea is to create a diversified multi-industry titan, shifting out of Qualcomm's current focus on mobile devices and into NXP's automotive computing wheelhouse.
That effort is running out of time, and the stakes are high. A canceled contract would also force Qualcomm to send a $1.25 billion termination fee over to NXP's Dutch headquarters. When Qualcomm re-filed its merger application with Chinese regulators in May, the deadline for the last regulatory review was set to coincide with Qualcomm's third-quarter report on July 25. Whether yea or nay, that date could very well spell the end of Qualcomm's nearly two-year effort to acquire NXP.
That being said, NXP is important enough that I expect Qualcomm to pull every available lever to make it happen. Whatever conditions the Chinese government might tie to its regulatory approval, Qualcomm should bend over backward to make them happen. Either way, Qualcomm's third-quarter report most certainly won't be boring this year.