The soft economy is hitting companies in different ways. In the case of wireless technology giant Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), company operations remain strong with some significant, but manageable, contraction in demand. But the company's bottom line is being hit hard as the places it parks much of its cash -- investments in securities -- continue to get hammered.

Qualcomm reported GAAP revenue growth of 3% to $2.52 billion in its fiscal first quarter, but the bottom line tightened significantly as net income of $341 million was 56% lower than last year. Though operating income took a 2% tick down, the $745 million reported is impressive in a weak market. And operating cash flow got a huge boost to $3.5 billion thanks to a big, fat check from Nokia (NYSE:NOK) as part of a new licensing and settlement agreement.

The severe drop in net income despite relatively steady operations came from a $388 million writedown in investment losses in the quarter. These investment losses put Qualcomm in familiar company with the average Jane Investor who has seen her own portfolio raked over the coals. In Qualcomm's case, it's holding unrealized losses of about $1.1 billion, which is hopefully magnitudes above the paper losses that any of us are fretting about.

The push to high-end devices and services continues to be a major growth driver for Qualcomm as all those Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerrys and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhones -- and the knockoffs from Samsung, Nokia, and others -- continue to be the handsets of choice for more consumers. With its dominant share of the wireless chipset market, upgrades to smarter and faster mobile devices often means high-margin chipset sales to Qualcomm.

Continued contraction of inventory levels in its sales channels and uncertainty about its investments has Qualcomm keeping mum on predictions of future net income, although it did give guidance for double-digit decay or less in revenue and operating income for the next fiscal year. 

The company will get a better feel for demand when carriers like AT&T (NYSE:T), Verizon (NYSE:VZ), and Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) report more sell-through data in the coming weeks. But even as growth is gone (for now), Qualcomm remains a cash machine with a strong balance sheet -- just the kind of company that can ride out severe economic storms.

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Fool contributor Dave Mock just can't win arguments with his kids, so he frequently pulls the "because I said so" card. He owns shares of Qualcomm and is the author of The Qualcomm Equation. Nokia and Sprint Nextel are Inside Value selections. Apple is a Stock Advisor recommendation. The Fool has a disclosure policy.