Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), one of the largest U.S. semiconductor makers, has been on a roller coaster ride this year. Following some favorable legal wranglings against Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), QCOM stock surged in April before giving back all those gains in May.
Source: Karlis Dambrans via Flickr
That retreats came as Qualcomm and some rival domestic semiconductor manufacturers found themselves front and center in the U.S.-China trade imbroglio. Over the past month, Qualcomm stock is off by 16.54%, a loss that is more than 1,000 basis points worse than the decline by the widely followed PHLX Semiconductor index over the same period.
Many of the recent ills endured by Qualcomm stock are attributable to the company’s relationship with the controversial Chinese company Huawei, which was recently blacklisted by U.S. regulators.
“While coverage surrounding the U.S. government’s Huawei ban has focused primarily on how the Chinese tech giant will be affected, it’s worth remembering that the company’s U.S. suppliers also stand to lose a great deal of money in the fallout of President Trump’s executive order,” reported TechRadar.
Coming down hard on a Chinese company can make for good politics, but there are consequences for American companies, too, particularly in the technology sector. In fact, Qualcomm and rival Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) are among the firms lobbying hard against the Huawei ban.
Issues Besides China
May was a bad month for QCOM stock for reasons besides China. Actually, trade tensions were more like another sour ingredient to an already-toxic cocktail that was Qualcomm stock last month. The shares were hit by a double-digit loss on May 24 after U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh ruled in favor of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in an antitrust action it brought against Qualcomm.
The judge ruled the company used its strong position in the wireless chip market to charge excessive royalties for its patents, unlawfully hurting competition, Barron’s reported.
Of course, Qualcomm is appealing that ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, representing yet another legal overhang for QCOM stock and that means uncertainty and there’s nothing that markets hate more than uncertainty.
“We fully expect Qualcomm to appeal this ruling and try to get the injunctive remedies put off,” said Morningstar analysts. “We don’t believe Qualcomm’s recent licensing agreement with Apple is at risk, yet. That said, we are lowering our fair value estimate for narrow-moat Qualcomm from $80 to $72 and increasing our uncertainty rating to very high as we believe there is too much up in the air related to this ruling and the ongoing Huawei-related issues.”
Swap “ucertainty” for “lack of clarity,” and that’s how other analysts are viewing Qualcomm stock right following the company’s legal scrap with the FTC.
“What is clear is that this decision was entirely unexpected and the impact on the business model could be material, assuming QCOM loses on appeal,” said Evercore ISI analyst C.J. Muse. “No changes to our rating and price target now as we await more clarity, but there is no doubt this decision will drive shares lower and potentially keep investors (again) on the sidelines until there is more clarity to the certainty of QCOM’s royalty and chipset businesses. We will come back as soon as we have more clarity.”
Bottom Line on QCOM Stock: A Lot Of Risks
On a technical basis, QCOM stock has support at $69, but a violation of that area could result in a decline down to the 200-day moving average more than 9% away.
The company’s next earnings report is due on July 24 and analysts are expecting Qualcomm to post earnings of 62 cents a share. Should negative guidance, a la Broadcom, emerge, QCOM stock would likely be punished.
Additionally, Qualcomm stock trades well below the average analyst price target of almost $89, meaning that if the sell-side starts revising that forecast down, with several negative revisions in a condensed period of time, the shares will sag.
Todd Shriber does not own any of the aforementioned securities.
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