Qualcomm Cut at Banc of America

The heat coming off Qualcomm ( QCOM) in recent months is likely to dissipate and investors should reconsider taking new positions in the stock, a Banc of America analyst urged Thursday.

The brokerage lowered Qualcomm to neutral from buy and lowered the price target to $60 from $72, warning that the wireless technology outfit is unlikely to sustain its blistering earnings pace indefinitely. The shares were recently down 73 cents, or 1.1%, to $65.56 on the Instinet premarket session.

Qualcomm's shares are up 23% this year and up 93% from March 2003, as the company has twice raised earnings estimates during the first quarter. BofA warned that momentum is likely to slow in the next quarter, a trend that could cause its valuation to shrink.

The shares currently trade at 37 times the 2004 Thomson One Analytics consensus earnings estimate of $1.76 and 35 times the 2005 estimate of $1.85.

Banc of America said handset sales remain brisk, although it cut its estimate of CDMA phone sales to 147 million from 150 million this year. Qualcomm collects royalties on cell phones that use its code-division multiple access algorithms. The brokerage cut its 2005 CDMA estimate to 165 million from 107 million.

Banc of America has done investment banking for Qualcomm in the past.

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