What happened

Shares of Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) were up 5.5% as of 1 p.m. EDT on Thursday. Shareholders of the mobile-chip designer were benefiting from a better-than-expected quarterly earnings report the day before, as well as a rosy outlook for the summer quarter as the company said it was mitigating supply issues amid the global chip shortage.

So what

Specifically, Qualcomm reported a 65% year-over-year increase in revenue to $8.06 billion and a 124% increase in adjusted net income to $2.2 billion during its fiscal 2021 third quarter (the three months ended June 27). Smartphone chip sales are Qualcomm's largest segment, and rapid adoption of new 5G-ready devices this year (as well as lapping depressed financial results from last spring, the start of the pandemic) accounted for the big sales jump in the third quarter.  

People using smartphones while standing against a wall.

Image source: Getty Images.

CEO Cristiano Amon also said Qualcomm has been able to mitigate supply chain restraints by sourcing chips from multiple fabricators around the globe. Other companies have reported difficulty in obtaining semiconductors they need as a wide range of devices from cars to home appliances are now using new connectivity tech these days.

But Qualcomm's scale has helped it stave off some of these challenges. As a result, the company is calling for a 5% increase in revenue and a 55% increase in adjusted earnings per share in its fiscal 2021 fourth quarter at the midpoint of guidance.

Now what

The 5G upgrade cycle is helping lift Qualcomm, but things could get more challenging in the years to come. It is facing new competition, like Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) decision to design its own chips in-house. Qualcomm is also making a push into new end markets like laptops, industrial equipment, autos, and network infrastructure as customer needs change in a new era of hyper-connectivity. But peers like Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) and Skyworks Solutions (NASDAQ:SWKS) are making the same push and acquiring other chip designers to bolster their suite of products. 

For now, though, Qualcomm is on solid footing and will continue to benefit from new smartphone models adopting 5G network technology. Shares of the company are flat so far in 2021, but quickly homing back in on all-time highs reached in January.

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.