Wedgewood Partners thoughts on Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) follows. Join our free newsletter for some exclusive info we don’t share elsewhere.
Of note regarding our continued conviction to hold onto Qualcomm, we think Qualcomm’s underperformance during the quarter was largely attributed to customer compliance issues and increasing regulatory scrutiny. Both pertain to Qualcomm’s lucrative licensing segment, which accounts for the majority of the Company’s profitability. Qualcomm continues to represent an excellent risk-reward trade-off, with shares trading at historically low multiples. Ample growth catalysts include management’s aggressive investment in increasing customer compliance with respect to signing licensing agreements, as well as retaking market share in its still-dominant chipset business.
We think the existential crisis that the market is pricing into Qualcomm’s shares is much too dire. First, China’s “techno-nationalism” has made it notoriously difficult for U.S. technology companies to compete on the Mainland2. We believe too that Qualcomm’s 2015 settlement with Chinese regulators over licensing practices represents a very unique and attractive new source of high-margin, revenue growth. To date, it has been difficult for Qualcomm to begin collecting, per their settlement. However, during the quarter, the Company announced that they had signed licensing agreements with four of the five largest Chinese mobile device original equipment manufacturers, so we expect to see licensing revenue ramp faster than the market is expecting. Second, we think there is a good probability Qualcomm wins back share at some key chipset accounts, which should bode well for margins, especially as the Company has invested in a nimbler cost-structure. Last, while we can attribute some of Qualcomm’s recent stumbles to a mobile handset industry that is entering a more mature phase of growth, the Company is relatively further along in the process of converting its business model to reflect those realities, and we expect double-digit earnings per share gains over the next few years. We estimate that Qualcomm currently trades at a mid-single digit forward earning per share multiple, adjusted for net cash, which is a substantial discount to both the Russell 1000 Growth Index and S&P 500 Index. We expect continued significant buyback activity over the next several quarters, which should enhance the Company’s per-share growth prospects.