QUALCOMM to Pay $975 Million to Resolve China Antitrust Dispute
Mobile chipmaker QUALCOMM, Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOM – $70.01) has agreed to pay China a fine of $975 million, ending a 14-month government investigation into anti-competitive practices. The deal also requires QUALCOMM to lower its royalty rates on patents used in China, likely helping Chinese smartphone makers. While nearly $1 billion is not pocket change, it removes a significant source of uncertainly from QUALCOMM’s business and positions the licensing group to participate in the full growth of the wireless market in China, according to company sources. However, the San Diego-based company still faces margin pressures and competition in China, one of its largest markets. Excluding the cost of the fine and other one-time items, QUALCOMM raised its fiscal 2015 earnings forecast to $4.85 to $5.05 per share, increasing the lower end of its previous forecast of $4.75 to $5.05. On that basis, analysts had expected $4.96 per share. The company also raised its revenue guidance to a range of $26.3 billion to $28 billion, slightly raising the lower end of its last forecast of $26 billion to $28 billion. I believe the company will see solid chipset sales throughout 2015 if the global economy can remain somewhat healthy, with notable growth in the smartphone market with Apple as a key customer. I also believe the popularity of QCOM’s Snapdragon chipset will offer an advantage, as media-centric wireless devices continue to be popular. The shares are up over 4% on the news and I am going to continue to hold QCOM in the aggressive portfolio for now.