Qualcommm, Inc. Earnings Preview: Is the Worst Over?

On Nov. 4, mobile chip giant Qualcomm is expected to report financial results for the final quarter of its fiscal 2015, ending what has been a difficult year for the company and, in particular, its chip business.

Let's take a closer look at what Qualcomm is expected to report for the current quarter and what Wall Street is predicting.

A tough ending to fiscal 2015Qualcomm is expected to report revenue of $5.21 billion for the quarter, representing an approximately 22.2% decline from a year ago.

This decline, Qualcomm CFO George Davis explained in the company's July earnings call, is expected to be as a result of weaker-than-expected sell-through of high-end devices using Qualcomm's processors during its third fiscal quarter. This weak sell-through led Qualcomm to expect that those customers would bring down their own device inventories, impacting demand for Qualcomm's high-end mobile chips.

In addition to the inventory correction dynamic that Qualcomm expected to impact its fourth quarter, Qualcomm's premium chip business had already been under pressure as Apple (which does not use Qualcomm's higher-value Snapdragon processors) gains high-end smartphone share and Samsung excluded Qualcomm from the current Galaxy S6/Note 5 product cycle.

New beginnings in fiscal year 2016Headed into fiscal 2016, analyst consensus calls for a 6.10% decline in revenue following an expected 5.5% decline in revenue. However, as a result of the company's recent restructuring actions to try to better align its operating cost structure with current business realities, analysts expect the company to post a slight increase in earnings per share during fiscal 2016 from $4.61 to $4.65.

It would seem that the worst may be over for the company. Although Apple took a big bite out of premium Android smartphone share during the iPhone 6/6 Plus cycle, it's unlikely that the iDevice maker will be able to continue gaining share at such a breakneck pace.

Additionally, at this point, the Galaxy S7/Note 6 represent opportunities for Qualcomm to claw back share and revenue within Samsung's product lineup rather than a risk. If Qualcomm doesn't win spots in these devices next year, then that's not going to drive another steep year-over-year drop in sales.

However, If Qualcomm does win back spots in these phones, then that represent potential revenue and margin upside for the company's chip business.

The stock is extremely cheapI believe that the risk-to-reward heading into the earnings report is skewed toward the bulls. The stock is down more than 20% year to date and currently trades at about 18.6 times the midpoint of its earnings per share (on a generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP, basis) outlook for fiscal 2015.

At a glance, the stock looks reasonably priced but not exactly cheap. However, it's important to realize that Qualcomm ended last quarter with approximately $25 billion in net cash and marketable securities (approximately $16.4 per share worth).

If we back this out of the stock price, the stock trades for around 13.5 times the midpoint of the company's GAAP earnings-per-share forecast. This is cheap in my book and, given that there's a pretty reasonable chance that we are at a bottom in terms of earnings, I don't think that things need to get dramatically better for Qualcomm's business in order for the share price to rise significantly from here.

The article Qualcommm, Inc. Earnings Preview: Is the Worst Over? originally appeared on Fool.com.

Ashraf Eassa owns shares of Qualcomm. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple and Qualcomm. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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