Boy, tough crowd.

After closing out 2004 with a nice boost in tech share prices, investors seem to be working through a post-holiday hangover. Several companies have come out with positive earnings releases but future growth targets that don't seem to satiate the market. For example, extreme makeover alumnus Motorola (NYSE:MOT) sang a sweet song to investors but then got spanked for "soft forward guidance."

San Diego stadium sponsor Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) was next in the whipping line last night when it reported its quarterly numbers. In its first fiscal quarter of 2005, Qualcomm beat expectations by earning $513 million on $1.4 billion in revenue, up 46% and 15% year over year, respectively. So what's the bad news? The company expects revenue to be roughly in line in the next quarter, and earnings will take the normal, seasonal dip. Also, the company sees 2005 shaping up for something in the neighborhood of 20% revenue growth and a 10% earnings increase.

So I guess ho-hum just doesn't cut it anymore. In Qualcomm's case, however, investors have to admit they've been a little spoiled lately. The wireless giant went on a tear last year and turned in blockbuster growth thanks largely to a pickup in phone sales -- mostly of the fancy 3G kind. The stock responded, and shares appreciated 60% in 2004 before factoring in a little dividend as well. So it shouldn't be all that surprising to see shares shed a few bucks as the party winds down.

Overall, I'd call the unimpressive guidance and subsequent stock fluctuation a nonevent. Qualcomm is still firing on all cylinders and is sitting on $8 billion in cash and equivalents even after shelling out $176 million to acquire three companies this quarter. WCDMA (wideband code-division multiple access) royalty share has gone up again, to 32% of its total royalties from all flavors of its patented CDMA technology. The company also tends to be conservative with guidance, and the wireless market tends to pull a few surprises -- just as it did in 2004.

The important metrics to watch with Qualcomm are those tied to the continued proliferation of 3G networks. The pace of the uptake of WCDMA networks, particularly in Europe, as well as the continued growth of Qualcomm's favored CDMA2000 with operators Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and Sprint PCS (NYSE:FON), will be the core drivers of growth in the near future. Later in the year, some more interesting stories may emerge, such as the development of MediaFLO USA, a subsidiary that will operate a nationwide wireless "media casting" network based upon its technology.

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Fool contributor Dave Mock keeps his vintage Magic 8-Ball on hand when it comes to forward guidance. He owns shares of Motorola but has no position in Qualcomm, though he has authored its first corporate biography -- The Qualcomm Equation.