Qualcomm misses revenue estimates, defends licensing model

FILE PHOTO - A Qualcomm building in San Diego California

(Reuters) – Qualcomm Inc reported a lower-than-expected 3.9 percent rise in quarterly revenue on Wednesday, and defended its licensing model in the face of multiple legal challenges over its alleged “anticompetitive” tactics.

The company’s shares were down 3.8 percent at $54.75 in aftermarket trading.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission and Apple Inc have sued Qualcomm accusing it of resorting to “anticompetitive” tactics to maintain a monopoly over chips used in smartphone.

Apple also filed a lawsuit against Qualcomm in Beijing on Wednesday, alleging that the chip supplier abused its clout and is seeking 1 billion yuan ($145.32 million) in damages.

Qualcomm executives firmly defended the company’s licensing model on its quarterly conference call, and said its revenue forecast did not include any impact from the dispute with Apple.

“Apple’s attack on Qualcomm’s business model is not only an attack on Qualcomm, but also an attack on the smartphone competition that Qualcomm’s business model enables,” the company’s president Derek Aberle said.

Qualcomm said it expects to continue to supply to Apple during the dispute, and that the company’s contracts with the iPhone maker’s suppliers were still valid.

South Korea’s antitrust regulator, The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC), fined Qualcomm 1.03 trillion won in December for what it called unfair business practices in patent licensing and modem chip sales.

The company said on Wednesday the latest quarter included an $868 million charge related to the KFTC investigation.

The company’s licensing business generates royalties earned through the licensing of wireless patents to the mobile industry.

Qualcomm is a major supplier to both Apple and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, with the two accounting for 40 percent of its 2016 annual revenue.

The San Diego-based company also forecast current-quarter adjusted profit of $1.15-$1.25 per share and revenue of $5.5 billion-$6.3 billion.

Analysts on average were expecting a profit of $1.20 per share and revenue of $5.90 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net income attributable to the company more than halved to $682 million, or 46 cents per share, in the first quarter ended Dec. 25, due to the charge. (http://bit.ly/2jqEoha)

Revenue rose to $6 billion from $5.78 billion, but missed analysts’ estimate of $6.12 billion.

Excluding items, Qualcomm earned $1.19 per share, slightly above analysts’ estimates of $1.18.

Qualcomm’s shares had risen nearly 20 percent in the past 12 months, compared with the 62.1 percent gain in the broader Philadelphia Semiconductor index.

(Reporting by Narottam Medhora in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Shounak Dasgupta)