When NXP Semiconductors (NXPI 0.33%) reports quarterly results, it's usually a good thing. The maker of mixed-signal semiconductors and co-inventor of Near Field Communications (NFC) payment services rarely fails to deliver the goods, and share prices tend to rise based on these business updates.
That wasn't the case this Thursday, however, as NXPI fell 19.7% after its Wednesday after-hours report.
In the third quarter of 2015, NXPI's sales came out flat compared to the year-ago quarter. CEO Richard Clemner took pains to note that this was below the low end of management's guidance range for the quarter, voicing his disappointment in both the press materials and the subsequent earnings call with analysts.
The troublesome economic trends Clemner had pointed out three months earlier, when he noted the original guidance ranges, only accelerated and worsened as the quarter went on.
"This has resulted in lower-than-planned sell-through and an increase of channel inventory," Clemner said. "As a result, our guidance for the fourth quarter reflects a much more reduced view of sales for the quarter."
Indeed, the forward projections for the quarter currently in progress came in far below typical seasonal patterns and other customary points of reference. The economic pain is real for NXP, and investors will have to deal with it.
Some operations did stay steady in the third quarter. Automotive sales rose by 7%, well within management's posted expectations. Secure identification product sales also increased by 7% to satisfy NXP's internal goals.
On the other hand, the NFC solutions you probably associate with this company are not growing in quite the explosive fashion many had expected -- including Clemner and his crew.
The secure connected devices division, which includes revenues from NFC chips, only delivered 5% year-over-year sales growth, below the guidance range.
"We do not expect significant new customer acceleration until we see that China handset OEMs add more transaction solutions to their platforms," Clemner explained. "There are encouraging signs, and our engagement level is very high, especially due to our ecosystem knowledge and ability to enable transit solutions in multiple large cities in China. However, growth related to these engagements will likely not materialize until sometime in 2016."
However, the game-changing merger with Freescale Semiconductor (NYSE: FSL) remains on track, and Clemner expects to close that $40 billion deal before the end of the year. That transaction will create a new company with annual sales in the $10 billion range, and he waxed poetic about the customer response to this idea:
Aside from the financial benefits, the customer feedback has been very favorable. Early in the process, they clearly saw the benefits from the combined company. Several have requested that we engage on new product developments that neither NXP nor Freescale could have supported independently.
Of course, Freescale also fell 15% on Thursday since its value is directly tied to NXP's share prices. Looking ahead -- and I mean beyond the current patch of turbulent waters -- this two-headed beast remains too large and too well-heeled to actually fail in a temporary economic storm.