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Broadcom's Earnings Report May Quell Investors' Fears

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Semiconductor giant Broadcom (BRCM - Get Report) will report third-quarter earnings results Tuesday, affording management a chance to put some of the rising fears about the company's mobile/wireless business to rest.

In comparison to market leader Qualcomm (QCOM), Broadcom has not had a stellar year. However, contrary to popular opinion, Broadcom's performance has been far from disastrous. The problem: given the "upper-tier level" chip position Broadcom has enjoyed when compared to, say, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), expectations for the company have been too high.

Broadcom's margins have come under pressure partially because of the steady decline of average selling prices of high-end mobile devices. However, the entire industry is dealing with the same issue.
[Read: <a target="blank" data-add-tracking="true" href="http://www.thestreet.com/story/12073988/1/why-you-should-buy-apple-ahead-of-earnings.html"><em>Why You Should Buy Apple Ahead of Earnings</em></a>]

That Broadcom's stock is down close to 30% because of this factor is a total overreaction. While Broadcom has taken the brunt of this fear, it is not alone. Qualcomm has also been impacted by mobile device saturation.

Even with the sector's prolonged weakness, which produced uninspiring results from the likes of Intel (INTC), Broadcom still managed a 6% revenue growth in the July quarter, including 7% year-over-year growth in the mobile/wireless business. So, despite the recent mobile struggles, management has been making the best of a tough situation.

I do believe, however, that management needs to deliver Tuesday. Only then will the stock get going again. This means not only does Broadcom need to beat on both revenue and profits, but guidance has to suggest that investors' worst fears are over.

The Street will be looking for earnings of 48 cents per share. Seeing that profits have been unstable over the past couple of quarters, it's no surprise that this estimate is 7 cents lower than what it was three months ago. While this might suggest a lack of confidence, I take it as a positive as expectations have been too high. It seems the Street is becoming more realistic.

Revenue, meanwhile, is expected to be flat at $2.13 billion. Although flat growth would be viewed as a negative here, I don't believe it (if achieved) could tell the whole Broadcom story. Focusing solely on this metric would discount what really is a well-diversified operation.
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