Listen up, audiophiles, because Dolby Laboratories (DLB 0.59%) just released fiscal fourth-quarter 2014 results. And for the second quarter in a row, these numbers sound pretty encouraging.
Shares of Dolby rose slightly in Thursday's after-hours trading after it said quarterly revenue climbed 4.8% year over year, to $227 million. This translated to a 3.4% increase in adjusted net income, to $60.8 million, or $0.58 per diluted share. Adjusted gross margin also climbed to 95.5%.
Analysts, on average, were only expecting earnings and sales of $0.31 per share and $216.7 million, respectively. Those figures also handily exceeded the guidance Dolby gave just three months ago, which called for fiscal Q4 revenue of only $210 million to $220 million, with adjusted earnings per share of $0.43 to $0.48.
For the current quarter, Dolby expects revenue to range from $235 million to $245 million -- higher than analyst estimates for $235.5 million -- with adjusted gross margin between 89% and 90%. For perspective on the increased revenue and falling gross margin, this includes the effect of Dolby's impending acquisition of Doremi Labs, which is expected to add incremental revenue of around $35 million to $50 million, and operating expenses of $20 million in fiscal year 2015.
For the full fiscal year 2015, Dolby expects total revenue to range from $970 million to $1 billion, which is also ahead of expectations for fiscal 2015 sales of $963.75 million.
Licensing (still) reigns
Dolby's overall performance was still largely dictated by its licensing business, which grew around 9.4% year over year during the quarter to generate revenue of $208.9 million. Broadcast was again the strongest performer given the ongoing transition to digital broadcast signals in emerging markets like China and India, with revenue climbing nearly 39% year over year to represent around 47% of the total.
But headwinds still exist in Dolby's other licensing segments. PC licensing revenue decreased slightly from last year to represent around 19% of the total. Consumer electronics were about 13% of total licensing, down around 2% sequentially, and 12% year over year due to lower revenue from DVD and Blu-Ray devices. Gaming and automotive represented around 10%, down around 19% sequentially due to seasonality, but up around 14% year over year, thanks to strong Xbox One and PS4 sales.
Mobile is stronger than it looks
Perhaps most concerning, mobile devices represented around 11% of the total licensing, down around 9% sequentially, and 26% year over year. However, that's not entirely surprising, as it's consistent with the guidance provided last quarter as the company works through the details of renewing its contract with Samsung, which management says had "come up for its natural renewal cycle."
Management highlighted the fact that Dolby's products are used in Amazon's entire suite of devices, from Fire TV to the Fire Phone and its Kindle Fire tablets. Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 even became the first mobile device to include Dolby's cinema Atmos technology.
Dolby's tech is also finding its way into a slew of other devices including Microsoft's Surface line, and new smartphones and tablets from the likes of Nokia, Lenovo, and LG. Nonetheless, given Samsung's outsized influence on the mobile market, it would be a huge relief to see some resolution there.
Progress in new tech
Finally, management provided a few updates on Dolby's newest product pipelines. Dolby Atmos, for one, increased its number of cinema screens by 150% this year to more than 750 screens globally. Dolby now claims more than 200 titles released in Dolby Atmos so far from all of the major studios, including 14 of the 15 highest-grossing titles so far this year. Dolby Atmos for the home was also launched last quarter, and Paramount and Warner Bros. became the first studios to release Dolby Atmos-enabled Blu-Ray titles.
Meanwhile, Dolby continues to build out its ecosystem for Dolby Vision, with which it saw high praise at this year's CES. Dolby expects the first TV using Dolby vision to ship early in calendar year 2015.
Dolby Voice was also co-launched during the year in conjunction with BT's MeetMe audio conferencing solution. All told, 25 customers have already signed up to implement BT MeetMe with Dolby Voice, and a "growing pipeline" is in place to drive more going forward.
Returning capital to you
Dolby Vision and Dolby Voice are still in their infancy, so likely won't generate much in the way of near-term sales. The absence of significant top-line growth is partly why Dolby announced it's initiating a small quarterly dividend program starting at $0.10 per share. In addition, Dolby increased the size of its stock repurchase program by an additional $200 million, bringing the total amount available for future share repurchases to $260 million.
If you're willing to wait for Dolby's grander plans to bear fruit, those programs could be music to your ears over the long term.