Qualcomm Again Raises Chip Shipment Guidance

Qualcomm ( QCOM) continued to baffle its critics Friday, again raising its chip shipment guidance despite a middling market for wireless equipment.

Qualcomm raised its estimate for the quarters ending in December and March, citing strong orders from handset makers and an encouraging outlook next year. The company pioneered code division multiple access technology, or CDMA, which is the predominant wireless standard in the U.S., with both Verizon Wireless and Sprint PCS ( PCS) using it.

For the quarter ending this December, the company plans to ship at least 28 million of its MSM phone chips, about 87% more than the 15 million it shipped a year ago. The current estimate is up from a forecast of 25 million to 27 million made earlier this year.

In the March quarter, the company plans to ship between 24 million to 27 million chips, compared with 14 million in the year-ago period. It previously expected "more than 20 million chips" to be shipped during the period.

About 80% of the chips in both quarters will be used for next generation CDMA2000 1X phones.

Investors cheered the news, sending shares of the technology provider up $1.98, or 5% to $41.56 in early trading Friday.

"Our growth expectations are again being exceeded as cdmaOne and CDMA2000 1X networks continue to experience rapid growth and success in global markets," said Qualcomm CEO Irwin Jacobs in a prepared statement. "We believe the continued growth of CDMA networks compared to other technologies primarily stems from the attractiveness to consumers and operators of 3G-enabled CDMA2000 1X handsets and the superior performance of CDMA systems."

While GSM -- or global system for mobile communications and its third generation migration paths -- remains the world's prevailing wireless standard, Qualcomm's technology is gaining a foothold. About 18% of the world's wireless subscribers, or 159 million people, currently use a version of CDMA technology, up 31% in the last 12 months, according to a CDMA Development Group study.

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