Qualcomm Q4: A tough Q1 on deck as chip shipments set to fall

The company saw an 8 percent rise in chip shipments during the year, but it may not stay that way.

Qualcomm posted good fourth quarter and end-of-year results after the bell on Wednesday, but things look bad for the current first quarter.

The chipmaker reported net income of $1.1 billion, or 67 cents per share (statement). On a non-GAAP bases, earnings were 91 cents per share on a revenue of $5.5 billion.

Wall Street was looking for earnings of 86 cents per share with $5.21 billion in revenue.

For the full year, Qualcomm reported non-GAAP net income of $25.3 billion, or $4.66 cents per share.

Wall Street expected earnings of $4.61 per share with $24.04 billion in revenue.

That's a win on both the quarter and the fiscal year.

In prepared remarks, chief executive Steven Mollenkopf said he was "encouraged" by the reaction to its flagship Snapdragon 820 chip, adding that the company is "on track to deliver on our fiscal 2016 cost reduction targets and expect to exit fiscal 2016 on an improving financial trajectory."

As for its outlook for the current first quarter, the company said it expects as much as a 27 percent decline in revenue of about $5.2 billion to $6 billion, and a decline in earnings per share by as much as 40 percent.

Wall Street wanted earnings of $1.08 and revenue of $5.8 billion for the first quarter.

The company said the decline is in part because it estimates its core MSM chip business could fall as much as 17 percent year-over-year.

Other points worth noting:

  • Qualcomm took a $190 million charge in the fourth quarter, based off the announcement during the third quarter.

  • The company ended the quarter with $30.9 billion in cash and equivalents.

  • As of the first quarter, Qualcomm will change how it reports its earnings, and will no longer report third-party acquisitions costs and restructuring costs.

Qualcomm's stock has fallen 18 percent in the year year-to-date. On Wednesday, the company ($QCOM) closed down 1 percent.