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Don't Panic Over Qualcomm


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The stock market is a lot of things, but one thing that Wall Street will never be accused of is being fair. Consider Texas Instruments (TXN), which just completed its sixth consecutive quarter of deteriorating sales. Somehow, the stock sits near its 52-week high.

Meanwhile, as of Tuesday's close of $66.10, shares of Qualcomm (QCOM) are at about the same level since the chip giant reported record revenue for its fiscal second quarter, its second consecutive strong quarter.

The stock failed to gain ground even though the company raised its revenue and earnings estimates for the year for the second straight quarter. The problem may be Wall Street might have expected even better projections.

I've heard rumblings that somehow Qualcomm signaled increased competitive pressure. The Street seems to fear that the company's chipset margins are under pressure.

Granted mobile-device prices are not as stout as they once were after two years of growth, but I wouldn't get carried away yet. And the Street assumes that management won't figure out a way to offset potential weakness in the company's licenses business.

Plus, Qualcomm reported a 24% increase in revenue for its fiscal second quarter even as the overall chip sector was weak during the first three months of the year. Texas Instruments Intel (INTC) and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) all posted revenue declines.

Qualcomm also maintained its full-year operating margin estimates for its chipset and licensing businesses.

What's more, the recent earnings report from chip designer ARM Holdings (ARMH) should allay fears about the direction of the market. ARM shipped 2.6 billion chips during its most recent quarter, an increase of 35%.

Qualcomm licenses technology from ARM, and so any increase in ARM's business signals stronger demand for Qualcomm's chips. Given that it has raised its estimates, I think Qualcomm's management knows something.

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