Qualcomm Q4 and FY 2012 financial results: Record numbers, but growth is slowing in the west

November 8, 2012
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    Qualcomm has just published their Q4 and full year 2012 financial results. In case you’re wondering how that works, they operate on a fiscal calendar, not the actual calendar. Back to the numbers, they’re absolutely mind bending: Q4 revenues were up 18% year on year; full year 2012 revenues were up 28% year on year. MSM volumes, meaning the Snapdragon chips that have an integrated SoC and cellular component, hit 141 million in Q4, up 11% year on year. For the full year that number is even higher, at a whopping 22%. All this despite the problems Qualcomm faced during the summer due to TSMC’s inability to meet demand for 28 nanometer parts.

    Not all is rosy however. Shipments of 3G and 4G devices to developed markets, meaning Japan, North America, and Europe, are up just 4% year over year. It makes sense when you think about it. What does nearly everyone in the developed world have in common? Chances are they likely own a smartphone. Qualcomm’s Chief Financial Officer, William Keitel, told Retuers:

    “Despite a somewhat lackluster world economy and despite very intense competition, we’re pretty optimistic on our financial outlook for 2013.”

    Cheery words indeed, but the company is forecasting revenue growth for fiscal 2013 to be anywhere between 20% to 26%, which is obviously lower than the 28% that they just reported.

    Taking a step back, why is Qualcomm where they are today? Because they had the foresight to develop the Snapdragon platform. Companies used to have to buy several components from multiple vendors and then spend time integrating and testing said parts. Qualcomm basically slapped all those bits and bobs into one product that their customers, the handset makers, could use to get a phone out to market in almost no time.

    Who’s Qualcomm’s competition? Samsung, who makes their own system on chip platform known as Exynos. That and there’s Intel. Today they might not be a big player, but just wait a few years.

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