Qorvo (NASDAQ:QRVO) investors may finally have a solid reason to celebrate. The chipmaker was on shaky ground this time last year thanks to intense competition among smartphone chip suppliers: Its mobile revenue was falling, and the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) business wasn't big enough to make up for the smartphone weakness.
But things took a turn for the better in August when Qorvo posted its first-quarter results. The chipmaker's revenue shot up in the mid-teens on the back of 7% growth in the mobile business. Coupled with solid growth in the infrastructure and defense products business (IDP), which increased 13% year over year, Qorvo's top line thumped past Wall Street estimates.
The good part: Qorvo looks all set to repeat that performance when it releases its second-quarter results on Oct. 31.
Apple will power mobile growth
Qorvo was losing ground at key customer Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) last year. Rival chipmakers Skyworks and Broadcom had scored the majority of the radio frequency chip spots at Cupertino, denting Qorvo's business as it relied on Apple for a third of its total revenue. But the tables have turned.
Qorvo has scored a win in the latest iPhone XR by displacing rival Broadcom. It is believed that Apple went with Qorvo this time to keep a handle on the production costs of the "cheapest" iPhone in its lineup. Instinet analyst Romit Shah said the switch could help Apple cut component costs to the tune of $100 million, and add $300 million to Qorvo's top line during the second half of 2018.
The iPhone XR is expected to command a 50% share in the production mix of the new iPhones. The accessible pricing of this model has piqued interest from users looking to upgrade from previous generation iPhones; as such, supply chain sources are predicting a higher proportion of iPhone XR orders both this year and in early 2019.
Qorvo pulled in $1.66 billion in revenue during the second half of calendar 2017, so an additional $300 million would increase that amount by 18%.
And since the company gets 70% of its revenue from the mobile business, it shouldn't be surprising if Qorvo's sales growth is higher than the 4.4% and 6.7% annual jumps anticipated by analysts for the quarters ending in September and December, respectively.
However, the upswing in the mobile business is not the only catalyst for Qorvo that investors should be watching.
Solid catalysts beyond mobile
We have already seen that Qorvo's IDP business recorded impressive growth last quarter. The good news is that this business won't be running out of steam anytime soon, as it includes fast-growing verticals within the IoT space. In fact, Qorvo claims that IoT-related revenue within the IDP business shot up 30% year over year during the first quarter, driven by the increasing demand for its filters across connected homes and connected cars.
Qorvo has now strengthened its IoT footprint by launching a new platform to target the fast-growing smart-home market. The company launched a new, integrated chip package last month that supports multiple smart-home connectivity protocols. OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) can deploy this chip package in their smart-home devices to boost signal range, reduce power consumption, and reduce their time to market.
According to Mordor Intelligence, smart homes occupied a 14% revenue share of the IoT chip market at the end of last year. Looking ahead, the IoT chip market is expected to grow at an annual rate of 13.5% through 2023, while the smart-home market could grow at a faster compound annual growth rate of nearly 26%.
Sunny days ahead
Analysts believe that the semiconductor industry is moving toward a cyclical slowdown thanks to weak chip demand and an increase in inventory levels that is creating an oversupply. But Qorvo has solid short- and long-term catalysts to offset weakness in the chip industry.
The company has struggled to grow its bottom line in the past five years, but that's not going to be the case anymore -- Qorvo's earnings are forecast to increase at an annual rate of nearly 13% for the next five years. This makes Qorvo an enticing investment, as it is valued at just 10 times forward earnings.