What happened

Shares of semiconductor maker and intellectual property powerhouse Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) are surging in Thursday morning trading, up a solid 14% as of 10:20 a.m. EST, after the company reported a big earnings beat last night.  

Heading into earnings day, analysts had forecast that Qualcomm would earn $1.17 per share, pro forma, on $5.9 billion in adjusted sales. As it turned out, Qualcomm earned $1.45 on sales of $6.5 billion.

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So what

And those were only the pro forma results. When calculated according to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), the scale of Qualcomm's Q4 2020 earnings beat was even greater: Sales surged 73% to $8.3 billion. Profits exploded 512% higher to $2.58 per share.  

Q4 was the final quarter of Qualcomm's fiscal year 2020, so let's review those results as well. For the year, Qualcomm's numbers were a bit more mixed, with sales down 3% at $23.5 billion. Profits were up, if not as much as in Q4 alone, rising 26% to $4.52 per share.

Now what

Summarizing the results, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf called Q4's numbers "exceptional" and said they "demonstrate that our investments in 5G are coming to fruition and showing benefits in our licensing and product businesses."

And looking ahead to fiscal 2021, Qualcomm predicts that Q1 will show further growth, with revenue rising to between $7.8 billion and $8.6 billion. Earnings are expected to range from $1.67 to $1.87, GAAP, and $1.95-$2.15, pro forma.

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