Here's Why I'm Tuning Out Qorvo (QRVO) - TheStreet

At around $63 right now, shares of semiconductor maker Qorvo (QRVO) - Get Report  are up 20% just for the year to date and 54% for the past 52 weeks. 

That's good, but there are significant problems facing this maker of radio frequency systems for wireless communications, which is why I'm avoiding this stock.

Shares were trapped in a trading range for about six months because investors wanted nothing to do with cellular supply chain names. Then, in November, Qorvo reported second-quarter earnings of $1.29 per share, 12 cents worse than expectations. Revenue rose 22% to $864.7 million, better than the $834 million consensus estimate. Chinese handset makers accounted for an extra $30 million in revenue during the quarter.

To ease investor minds, the board of directors authorized a new share repurchase program. The $500 million buyback includes a $159 million buyback that was previously authorized and was set to expire on Nov. 4.

While demand doesn't seem a problem, Qorvo has big-time execution issues. Gross margins of 42.8% were down sharply from the year before. In the same quarter last year, the company reported a 49.6% gross margin. The third-quarter gross margin estimate is 44.4%, down 340 basis points.

Qorvo's radio frequency filters are some of the most critical components in a cellular handset, and the gross margin line is disintegrating. The company wrecked its margins with factory utilization problems. Reports indicate the company had to scrap tons of low-quality parts and has had problems winning business from Apple (AAPL) - Get Report , a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS portfolio. Qorvo is falling behind in terms of technology as Skyworks (SWKS) - Get Report  and Broadcom (AVGO) - Get Report  are carving up the next wave of handset wins.

Back in the summer I was positive on QRVO, but execution issues keep tripping up this stock. Gross margins fell 330 basis points in the first quarter, then 680 basis points in the second; they are projected to be down another 340 basis points. What?

Qorvo will be lucky to end the year with just a 450-basis-point drop in gross margins. So while revenue is expected to grow 18% this year, earnings are expected to grow just 7%-8%.

These guys should be killing it. They have between $4 and $8 in content in every iPhone sold. But Qorvo can't make money. Until the company can find a way to improve gross margins and grow the bottom line faster, I am avoiding this stock.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.