Editors Note:

If you lose a billion dollars every couple weeks pretty soon that adds up to real money. Qualcomm has been hit with three suits/probes over the last several weeks and each was for a billion dollars. There are likely to be more.


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QCOM - Qualcomm - Company Profile

QUALCOMM Incorporated develops, designs, manufactures, and markets digital communications products and services in China, South Korea, Taiwan, the United States, and internationally. The company operates through three segments: Qualcomm CDMA Technologies (QCT); Qualcomm Technology Licensing (QTL); and Qualcomm Strategic Initiatives (QSI). The QCT segment develops and supplies integrated circuits and system software based on code division multiple access (CDMA), orthogonal frequency division multiple access (OFDMA), and other technologies for use in voice and data communications, networking, application processing, multimedia, and global positioning system products. The QTL segment grants licenses or provides rights to use portions of its intellectual property portfolio, which include various patent rights useful in the manufacture and sale of certain wireless products comprising products implementing CDMA2000, WCDMA, CDMA TDD, and/or LTE standards, as well as their derivatives. The QSI segment invests in early-stage companies in various industries, including digital media, e-commerce, healthcare, and wearable devices for supporting the design and introduction of new products and services for voice and data communications. The company also develops and offers products for implementation of small cells; mobile health products and services; software products, and content and push-to-talk enablement services to wireless operators; and development, and other services and related products to the United States government agencies and their contractors. In addition, it licenses chipset technology and products for data centers. Company description from FinViz.com.

Qualcomm it under attack from every direction. A while back China's regulator assessed a $975 million fine for improper licensing and made them lower royalties. The South Korean FTC imposed a fine of $853 million because it found the company's licensing practices to be monopolistic. The KFTC found that Qualcomm's market share had risen from 34% in 2010 to 69% in 2015 while many competitors were forced out of the market.

In early January, the US FTC attacked the company for anticompetitive practices that prevented competitors from supplying chips to handset makers. This is another billion dollar problem.

Three days later Apple sued Qualcomm for $1 billion claiming Qualcomm charged five times as much for licensing than all other cellular patent licensors combined. Apple also claimed the company withheld $1 billion in rebates because Apple had cooperated with KFTC when that investigation was active.

There is blood in the water and there will probably be other suits from companies that suffered under the Qualcomm licensing scheme as well. The odds are also good that Qualcomm will have to change their licensing scheme, which will probably result in lower fees.

With roughly $4 billion in fines and suits over the last few weeks, the investor appetite for QCOM shares has evaporated. Brokers are slashing their ratings from buy to hold or even sell.

Last week the company reported earnings of $1.19 that matched estimates but missed on revenue. They guided for $1.15-$1.25 for Q1 and analysts were expecting $1.17. Other than that the guidance was lackluster with a lot of excuses and questions deflected.

Earnings April 26th.

Shares have collapsed on the news of the suits and fines and are threatening a steeper decline. Initial support is $50.

Buy March $52.50 put, currently $1.65, initial stop loss $57.35.