Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) Misses Q1 Analysts' Revenue Estimates

Full Report / February 02, 2023
Add to Watchlist

Wireless chipmaker Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) fell short of analyst expectations in Q1 FY2023 quarter, with revenue down 11.6% year on year to $9.46 billion. Qualcomm made a GAAP profit of $1.99 million, down on its profit of $3.39 billion, in the same quarter last year.

Qualcomm (QCOM) Q1 FY2023 Highlights:

  • Revenue: $9.46 billion vs analyst estimates of $9.57 billion (1.14% miss)
  • EPS (non-GAAP): $3.23 vs analyst estimates of $2.35 (37.2% beat)
  • Revenue guidance for Q2 2023 is $9.1 billion at the midpoint, below analyst estimates of $9.41 billion
  • Free cash flow was negative $426 million, down from positive free cash flow of $812 million in previous quarter
  • Inventory Days Outstanding: 156, up from 119 previous quarter
  • Gross Margin (GAAP): 57.2%, down from 59.8% same quarter last year

Having been at the forefront of developing the standards for cellular connectivity for over four decades, Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), is a leading innovator and a fabless manufacturer of wireless technology chips used in smartphones, autos and internet of things appliances.

Qualcomm has one of the more unique semiconductor business models. Its research has created the intellectual property that is the foundation for the global wireless industry. In the 1990s they developed the original code division multiple access (CDMA) technology that became the standard for cell phone networks first in the US, then around the world. Qualcomm has had a hand in developing Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth, along with RFID (Radio Frequency ID), and 4G and 5G technology.

It monetizes its portfolio of more than 140,000 patents through designing semiconductors used in handsets, autos, and IoT and also through licensing its patents for others to incorporate in their own products. Qualcomm outsources manufacturing of its chips, its main product family is the Snapdragon chip, an all in one chip used to power mobile devices: it includes a cellular modem, integrated Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS, along with a CPU (central processing unit) and GPU (graphics processing unit). Different versions of Snapdragon are used in different types of devices (tablets, laptops, handsets) based on the different battery life or processing requirements.

Qualcomm’s stranglehold on wireless’s foundational technology has enmeshed it in disputes over royalty payments, which are highly consequential to Qualcomm’s business model as it receives a royalty of roughly 5% of the average price of every smartphone sold, and those licensing revenues are nearly pure profit. In 2017, Apple refused to continue paying the royalty which degenerated into a lawsuit with Apple switching to Intel modem chips, only to return to Qualcomm in 2019, when Intel decided not to make 5G modems. Qualcomm also ran into similar disputes with Chinese handset makers such as Huawei in the past few years, all of which have since been resolved, with Qualcomm continuing to receive its royalty payments. Because of its unique position in the semiconductor world, Qualcomm became a geopolitical football during China-US trade tensions over the past few years: China blocked Qualcomm’s attempted acquisition of NXPI over antitrust concerns, while the US blocked Broadcom proposed hostile takeover of Qualcomm over national security concerns.

Qualcomms peers and competitors include AMD (NASDAQ:AMD), Broadcom (NASDAQ:AVGO), Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), MediaTek (TWSE:2454), NXP Semiconductors NV (NASDAQ:NXPI), Nvidia (NASDAQ: NDVA), and Samsung (KOSI:005930).

Processors and Graphics Chips

Chips need to keep getting smaller in order to advance on Moore’s law, and that is proving increasingly more complicated and expensive to achieve with time. That has caused most digital chip makers to become “fabless” designers, rather than manufacturers, instead relying on contracted foundries like TSMC to manufacture their designs. This has benefitted the digital chip makers’ free cash flow margins, as exiting the manufacturing business has removed large cash expenses from their business models. Read More The semiconductor industry is broadly divided into analog and digital semiconductors. Digital chips are what most people think of as the brains of almost every electronic device. Their primary purpose is to either store (memory chips) or process (CPUs/GPUs) data. Digital chips derive their processing power from the number of transistors that can be packed on an individual chip. In chip design, nanometers or “nm” refers to the length of a transistor gate – the smaller the gate the more processing power that can be packed into a given space. In 1965, Intel’s founder Gordon Moore famously predicted a doubling of transistors on a chip every two years. The concept, known as Moore’s Law, was based on his belief that the technology used to create semiconductors would improve continuously, allowing chips to become ever smaller and ever more powerful.

Sales Growth

Qualcomm's revenue growth over the last three years has been strong, averaging 28% annually. But as you can see below, last year quarterly revenue declined from $10.7 billion to $9.46 billion. Semiconductors are a cyclical industry and long-term investors should be prepared for periods of high growth, followed by periods of revenue contractions (which can sometimes offer opportune times to buy).

Qualcomm Total Revenue

This was a difficult quarter for Qualcomm, with revenue declining 11.6%, missing analyst estimates by 1.14%. Qualcomm's revenue is continuing to decline, signal that the current downcycle is deepening.

Revenue growth went from positive to negative this quarter, and Qualcomm expects it to stay negative next quarter with an estimated decline of 18.4% YoY and analysts think the declines will continue, with next twelve months estimated at 1.22% declines.

Product Demand & Outstanding Inventory

Days Inventory Outstanding (DIO) are an important metric for chipmakers, as it reflects the capital intensity of the business and the cyclical nature of semiconductor supply and demand. In a tight supply environment, inventories tend to be stable, allowing chipmakers to exert pricing power. Steadily increasing DIO can be a warning sign that demand is weak, and if inventories continue to rise the company may have to downsize production.

Qualcomm Inventory Days Outstanding

This quarter, Qualcomm’s inventory days came in at 156, 74 days above the five year average, suggesting that that inventory has grown to higher levels than what we used to see in the past.

Pricing Power

Qualcomm's gross profit margin, how much the company gets to keep after paying the costs of manufacturing its products, came in at 57.2% in Q1, down 2.5 percentage points year on year.

Qualcomm Gross Margin (GAAP)

Despite declining over the past year, Qualcomm still retains strong gross margins, averaging 57.2%, pointing to a still potent competitive offering, pricing power, and solid inventory management.


Qualcomm reported an operating margin of 46.8% in Q1, up 5.4 percentage points year on year. Operating margins are one of the best measures of profitability, telling us how much the company gets to keep after paying the costs of manufacturing the product, selling and marketing it and most importantly, keeping products relevant through research and development spending.

Qualcomm Adjusted Operating Margin

Operating margins have been trending up over the last year, averaging 39.9%. Qualcomm's margins remain one of the highest in the semiconductor industry, driven by its highly efficient operating model's economies of scale.

Earnings, Cash & Competitive Moat

Wall St analysts are expecting earnings per share to decline 14.1% over the next twelve months, although estimates are likely to change post earnings.

Earnings are important, but we believe cash is king as you cannot pay bills with accounting profits. Qualcomm's free cash flow came in at -$426 million in Q1, down 128% year on year.

Qualcomm Free Cash Flow

Qualcomm has generated $4.93 billion in free cash flow over the last twelve months. This is a solid result, which translates to 11.4% of revenue. That's above average for semiconductor companies, and should put Qualcomm in a relatively strong position to invest in future growth.

Qualcomm’s average return on invested capital (ROIC) over the last 5 years of 59.2% implies it has a strong competitive position and is able to invest in profitable growth over the long term.

Key Takeaways from Qualcomm's Q1 Results

Sporting a market capitalization of $155 billion, more than $8.23 billion in cash and with positive free cash flow over the last twelve months, we're confident that Qualcomm has the resources it needs to pursue a high growth business strategy.

We were impressed by how strongly Qualcomm outperformed analysts’ earnings expectations this quarter. And we were also glad to see the improvement in operating margin. On the other hand, it was less good to see that the revenue growth was quite weak and the revenue guidance for the next quarter missed analysts' expectations. Overall, it seems to us that this was a complicated quarter for Qualcomm. The company is up 2.99% on the results and currently trades at $140 per share.

Is Now The Time?

Qualcomm may have had a bad quarter, but investors should also consider its valuation and business qualities, when assessing the investment opportunity. Although we have other favorites, we understand the arguments that Qualcomm is not a bad business. We would expect growth rates to moderate from here, but its revenue growth has been solid, over the last three years. And on top of that, its impressive operating margins are indicative of an highly efficient business model.

Qualcomm's price to earnings ratio based on the next twelve months is 12.6x. In the end, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. While Qualcomm wouldn't be our first pick, if you like the business, the shares are trading at a pretty interesting price point right now.

To get the best start with StockStory check out our most recent Stock picks, and then sign up to our earnings alerts by adding companies to your watchlist here. We typically have the quarterly earnings results analyzed within seconds from the data being released, and especially for the companies reporting pre-market, this often gives investors the chance to react to the results before the market has fully absorbed the information.