RF Micro Devices (NASDAQ: RFMD) reported its fiscal Q1 2015 earnings a few days ago, and far outpaced Wall Street's estimates for the quarter. The company contributed its earnings beat to a ramp up in new smartphone business, but can RFMD keep the momentum going?
RF Micro Devices reported revenue of $316 million for the quarter, up 8% year over year. Analysts anticipated revenue of $305 million. Adjusted earnings jumped to $0.24 per diluted share, up 167% year over year, and much higher than Wall Street's estimate of just $0.17.
RFMD attributes the successful quarter to several advancements over the past three months. The first being that the company's cellular product group, or CPG, experienced an increase in radio frequency solutions for multiple 3G and 4G smartphones, which attributed to more than 90% of all CPG revenue for the quarter.
Northland Capital Markets analyst, Tom Sepenzis, told Reuters, "We will probably hear that it has a lot to do with their largest customer, which they won't name, but obviously is Apple and the smartphone growth coming out of China right now is just on fire."
The company's radio chips are found in everything from the iPhone to Samsung's smartphones, as well as cellular notebooks and tablets, allowing those devices to connect to cellular networks.
In its earnings release, RFMD said it expects to close on its merger with TriQuint Semicondutor (NASDAQ: TQNT) before the end of 2014. As fellow Fool Anders Bylund mentioned, the single company created by the merger will produce $2 billion in annual sales, and generate a cost savings of about $150 million in the two years following the merger.
TriQuint makes the majority of its revenue from its mobile division, which accounted for 63% of total revenue in Q2 2014. The company's quarterly revenue for the mobile segment was up about 40% because of higher LTE demand in China.
Part of that LTE growth comes from China Mobile's massive TD-LTE network rollout in the country. Since February of this year, the company's 4G subscribers have skyrocketed from just 1.3 million to 14 million at the end of June. China Mobile will have more than 500,000 4G base stations online by the end of this year and projects 50 million 4G subscribers by that point. As China's 4G LTE network expands, RFMD and TriQuint's radio chips will continue to benefit.
In addition to the merger, RFMD said it expects additional smartphone business in the September quarter, spurred in part by LTE demand and growth of the fifth-generation 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard. RFMD estimates fiscal Q2 quarterly revenue of about $345 million with diluted earnings per share of $0.27.
Aside from demand in China, analysts expect RFMD to have a bigger part in supplying radio frequency devices for Apple's next iPhone than it has in the past. Of course neither Apple nor RF Micro Devices have disclosed how many radio frequency chips RFMD will supply for the next smartphone, but Morgan Stanley's noted Apple analyst Katy Huberty estimates a 20% increase in iPhone 6 sales over the iPhone 5s. That bump in sales could translate into more radio frequency chip orders for RFMD in the coming quarters if RFMD can win the iPhone 6.
Continued smartphone growth over the next few years should help drive purchases of more radio frequency chips as well. A report last year by Ericsson Mobility said that smartphone subscribers will increase from 1.9 billion in 2013 to 5.6 billion in 2019. The report also says that in five years 65% of the world will be covered by LTE. Both the increase in smartphone subscribers and the surge in LTE coverage should help spur growth in RFMD's business, just as both have done in the current quarter.
I think RF Micro Device's strong mobile business growth, its merger with TriQuint Semicondutor, plus overall smartphone and LTE growth, should make investors optimistic about RFMD's fiscal Q2. Add to that the possibility of the company supplying radio frequency chips for Apple's new iPhone, and the company's next quarter could easily meet RFMD's forward estimates.