Qualcomm sets rosy outlook for 2021 with demand for 5G chips

4 Feb 2021

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The company’s revenues were slightly under expectations but it is banking on increasing demand for 5G chips in the coming year.

Qualcomm’s latest quarterly earnings didn’t hit Wall Street expectations but the firm anticipates an improved outlook this year with growing demand for 5G chips.

The earnings call is one of the last for Qualcomm under its current CEO Steve Mollenkopf, who will retire this year. The chipmaker announced $8.23bn in revenue in its last fiscal quarter, up 63pc year over year.

Qualcomm’s chip division, QCT, makes up the lion’s share of the company’s revenue. The growth of 5G smartphones on the market has fuelled an uptake of Qualcomm’s chips with the handset segment of QCT reporting $4.2bn in revenue in the quarter, a growth of 79pc compared to 12 months ago. It also saw strong gains in sales of its automotive and internet of things (IoT) chips.

“We delivered an exceptional quarter, more than doubling earnings year over year due to strong 5G demand in handsets and growth in our RF front-end, automotive and IoT adjacencies, which drove record earnings in our chip business,” Mollenkopf said.

“We remain well positioned as the 5G ramp continues and we extend our core technology roadmap to adjacent industries.”

The company said it expects to see increased sales of its handset chips in 2021 as more 5G devices hit the market.

Last month Qualcomm confirmed that it was acquiring Nuvia for $1.4bn to bolsters its development capabilities in chips for smartphones and cars.

The company recently announced that it would be opening a new 5G research facility in Paris to further develop its next generation chips.

Mollenkopf will be retiring from his chief executive post this year with president Christiano Amon taking the helm.

The last few years has been of mixed fortunes for Qualcomm and Mollenkopf. It fended off a hostile takeover by Broadcom and in 2020, the US Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust case against the company was dismissed. However, the company has also been hit with multiple fines totalling €1.2bn across two antitrust investigations in Europe.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin