I don't get it. Qualcomm's
Qualcomm's revenue rose 1% from the year-ago quarter but fell 1% sequentially. Growth that flat is hardly worth celebrating.
Core business results were a bit weak, as well. Yes, net income rose 15%. But diluted earnings per share were $0.28, adjusting for the $0.05 per share from the QSI (Qualcomm Strategic Iniatives) segment and a one-time tax benefit of $0.01 per share. That's a 3% drop year over year and sequentially. (Those adjusted earnings still beat analysts' $0.25-per-share projections for the core business, excluding QSI.)
That said, QSI is basically an R&D group -- not something to ignore altogether. It hasn't significantly contributed to the company's profitability yet, nor is it expected to in the foreseeable future, but its potential remains.
The company lowered high-end revenue guidance by $50 million, but revenue is still expected to increase by 10% to 12%. The range for diluted earnings per share rose from between $1.10 and $1.14 to between $1.13 and $1.15. At the high end of guidance, earnings are projected to increase 7.5%.
The mean analyst estimate for this year is $1.14 per share (based on core business expectations, excluding QSI). Given that, the stock is currently priced at 34.2 times earnings for the fiscal year ending in September. That's a champagne multiple for the cell phone megapower, especially when double-digit earnings growth isn't expected.
Demand for advanced handsets designed for e-mail, video, and music downloads should soon increase, and that sector could be a big profit winner for Qualcomm in the future. But while a killer application is still not obvious for these new phones, overall handset unit sales are still robust at Motorola
Qualcomm has grown 18.3% per year for the past five years. Analysts expect 20% compounded growth for the next five. Unless I'm missing something, Qualcomm's stock multiple carries a significant premium above its expected growth rate.
Before you bury me in e-mail saying, "You really don't get it," read this. Qualcomm has great products. Its debt-free balance sheet, with $5.7 billion in cash and marketable securities, is as solid as they come. The company's trailing operating margins exceed 40% -- a fantastic number. Still, I believe that the stock's surge in the past two days is hardly warranted by current business trends. Investors are paying a stiff premium to get this proven long-term winner. At this price, it's too rich for my blood.
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Fool contributor W.D. Crotty does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned.