3 Key Takeaways From Skyworks Solutions' Big Quarter

By Andy Gould Markets Fool.com

It was a pretty stellar start to the new fiscal year for Skyworks Solutions (NASDAQ: SWKS), which reported first quarter 2017 earnings late last week. The wireless chip maker beat its own guidance, as well as analyst expectations on both the top and bottom lines -- reporting revenue of $914 million and non-GAAP earnings per share of $1.61, a new quarterly record.

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Image source: Skyworks Solutions

Skyworks stock has soared following the report, gaining 17% in the past week. With management sounding a bullish tone for the remainder of the year, let's run through a few points of interest gleaned from the company's conference call.

1. A future that is less dependent on Apple -- and eventually, phones

CEO Liam Griffin noted that, "Our growth and success outside of our largest customer has been outstanding."

Skyworks has long been seen as a company whose prospects are intertwined with Apple, its largest customer. For the first quarter of 2017, CFO Kris Sennesael stated that Apple was still responsible for approximately 40% of total revenue.

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However, the company continues to diversify its customer base, with Griffin calling out several expanding customer relationships with Chinese phone manufacturers, including Oppo, Vivo, Meizu, Xiaomi, and Huawei, which has now become its second largest customer.

Looking beyond phones, Griffin also noted wins across diverse industries from home security systems and modems to voice assistants and electric cars in its broad markets portfolio, forecasting year-over-year growth for this segment of 10% to 15% and continued double-digit growth for the foreseeable future:

Griffin specifically called out the huge opportunities in autonomous vehicles and the amount of connectivity they will require:

Looking out over the next few years, the amount of data that will be delivered to and from the car is estimated to be five to 10 times more than the bandwidth used by today's smartphone. For instance, by 2020, a single autonomous car is expected to consume 4,000 gigabits of data per day in real-time diagnostics, positioning, vehicle-to-vehicle communications, and that's equivalent to the daily data consumed by more than 2,000 smartphone users in 2017.

While there is still plenty of growth to be had in the mobile arena -- management talked at length about the opportunities it sees in 5G -- it appears the company is preparing for a future where its expansion is driven more by the Internet of Things. Griffin remarked:

Yes, I think the highest-growth categories are really around the connected home, high-speed access points and routers.[...] Automotive, we think, could be a phenomenal catalyst for us for semiconductors in general and for Skyworks [...]Cellular infrastructure has been a market we've enjoyed for a while. It's not the fastest growing market.

2. Year-over-year comparisons should only get better from here

First quarter revenue and non-GAAP net income were both down year-over-year. Keep in mind, however, the first quarter of 2016 was an especially tough comparison, setting Skyworks' all-time record for revenue with $926.8 million.

But going forward, those comparisons are going to get quite a bit easier. The company provided guidance for second quarter revenue of $840 million, which represents an 8% increase over last year, as well as non-GAAP earnings of $1.40 per share, a 12% increase. On the call, CFO Kris Sennesael also stated that beyond the second quarter, they expect to see margin expansion and sequential revenue growth for the remainder of the year.

Griffin echoed that thought when he said, "We're very confident that, as Kris articulated, as we step through the second half fiscal and second half calendar year, you're going to see revenue and margin step up. So we are committed to continuing that path."

And later, Griffin got even more specific about what to expect in the third and fourth quarters:

I think we've weathered a bit of a storm here in 2016, and most of the clouds there have abated.

And it's not just market shifts. We're gaining share, we're creating new content, we're expanding in IoT and in broad markets, and it's meaningful and it's sustainable. We're confident that the second half for us should be a double-digit growth rate year-over-year.

3. The company is generating plenty of cash -- and returning it to shareholders

Skyworks reported $496 million in quarterly cash flow from operations, a new company record. The company ended the first quarter with $1.35 billion in cash, with Sennesael remarking:

[...] on free cash flow, and I'm really happy with the performance there, especially in Q1 with almost $0.5 billion of cash flow from operations. [...] when you look at our business model, we will continue to generate a ton of cash every quarter going forward.

The same day earnings were released, Skyworks announced plans to repurchase up to $500 million of its stock.

Sennesael also stated the company plans to keep returning cash to investors at these levels, "Historically we have been returning 40%, 50% of our free cash flow to the shareholders. And so that's something that we will continue to do so."

Over the last year, Skyworks' diluted share count has declined by nearly 4%. If management follows through on its latest $500 million buyback authorization in its entirety (assuming the most recent closing price as of this writing as an average), the share count would decline again by another 3% or so. A continued shrinking share count, coupled with rising earnings per share, makes for a nice cherry on top of what was already an impressive quarter.

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Andy Gould owns shares of Apple and Skyworks Solutions. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple and Skyworks Solutions. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2018 $90 calls on Apple, short January 2018 $95 calls on Apple, and long February 2017 $75 calls on Skyworks Solutions. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.