Chipmaker Broadcom's fourth-quarter results meet expectations


By Noel Randewich

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Broadcom on Thursday posted fourth-quarter revenue and profits that were down from a year earlier, but the result slightly exceeded expectations of Wall Street analysts concerned about tepid smartphone sales.

The chipmaker reported fourth-quarter revenue of $2.06 billion, down 0.8 percent from the year-ago period. It said revenue in the first quarter would be between $1.9 billion and $2.0 billion.

While Broadcom's connectivity chips are widely used in high-end smartphones like Apple's iPhone, they are included less in low-end handsets favoured by many consumers in emerging markets, where growth in smarpthones has shifted.

Concerns about slowing smartphone sales grew on Monday when Apple gave a weak revenue forecast and reported lower-than-expected holiday iPhone sales.

"Despite Apple disappointing on some of their numbers, the supply chain seems to be exceeding expectations," RBC analyst Doug Freedman said of Broadcom's quarterly results.

To make up for the smartphone shift to emerging markets, Broadcom is launching advanced LTE baseband chips to compete with dominant player Qualcomm and is also stepping up its focus on networking in data centres.

Around half of Broadcom's revenues come from mobile, with the rest coming from network infrastructure and home products like modems and set-top boxes.

In December, Broadcom said trends were improving across its businesses - particularly in infrastructure and networking - and it increased its revenue forecast for the fourth quarter to a range of $2.0 billion to $2.05 billion, compared with a previous forecast of $1.975 billion.

Analysts on average had expected fourth-quarter revenue of $2.020 billion and first-quarter revenue of $1.967 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Fourth-quarter net profit fell to $168 million, or 29 cents a share, versus $251 million, or 43 cents last year.

Non-GAAP earnings per share were 60 cents, better than the 57 cents expected by analysts.

Following delays with technology development last year, Broadcom said in December it expects to start receiving revenue from its first LTE baseband chips in the first quarter, with Samsung Electronics as its first significant customer.

Like larger Intel, Broadcom has been slow to launch chips featuring multimode, carrier-validated LTE, or Long Term Evolution, a technology allowing fast data transfer rates in smartphones that has become widely adopted in the United States.

Adding to worries about smartphone demand, Samsung last week posted an 18 percent drop in fourth-quarter mobile profits, including weaker-than-expected sales of its Galaxy S4 high-end devices.

Broadcom shares were unchanged in extended trading after closing up 1.81 percent at $29.21 in regular Nasdaq trade.

(Reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by Leslie Adler and Mohammad Zargham)

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