Qualcomm was upbeat on its Q4 2015 performance although revenue slid 18 per cent to $5.5 billion and net income took a dip downwards.
The company said revenue and earnings were at the high end of its expectations, with stronger-than expected smartphone chipset shipments offsetting slower progress in tying down new licence agreements in China.
However, net income fell by 44 per cent to $1.1 billion.
Shipments of its high-end MSM smartphone chips fell 14 per cent to 203 million in Q4, although they rose by eight per cent over the full year to 932 million.
The company is facing a struggle with its patent licensing business, particularly in China where some vendors are moving slowly on signing new deals. Others are under reporting their handsets sales to reduce payments, said Qualcomm. Patent licensing contributes more than half of the US company’s profits.
The process of signing licensing deals in China was supposed to get easier after Qualcomm reached an antitrust settlement earlier this year with China’s National Development and Reform Commission. That settlement involved the US company paying a fine and agreeing to lower royalty rates for phones sold for use in China.
Some progress has followed the settlement, including a worldwide licensing pact signed with ZTE earlier this week.
“You should read this as just a delay in signing up people, not a change to the overall capability of us to go after that market,” said CEO Steve Mollenkopf, in a comment reported by Bloomberg.
Qualcomm has also been under pressure from activist investor Jana Partners to consider a split of its chipset and licensing businesses.
It has considered, and rejected, such a move in the past. In July, the company announced a plan to cut expenses by $1.4 billion and review strategic options. The review is expected to reach a conclusion by the end of 2015.
Earnings per share in the current quarter (ending in December) will be 80 cents to 90 cents on revenue of $5.2 billion to $6 billion. The profit figure was below analyst estimates.
Full-year 2015 revenue fell five per cent to $25.3 billion, while net income dropped by 34 per cent to $5.3 billion.