Business

Broadcom targets smaller deals

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Broadcom officials are still smarting over the loss of the Qualcomm deal.
Broadcom officials are still smarting over the loss of the Qualcomm deal.

Broadcom said yesterday it was likely to pursue smaller acquisitions of chipmakers after its failed hostile takeover bid to acquire rival Qualcomm.

It added that its smartphone chip business would see a drop in demand this quarter from a North American customer and an increase from South Korea.

Most analysts believe the North American customer is Apple, which made up a fifth of Broadcom revenue last year, and the Korean customer is Samsung Electronics, which is ramping up production of its recently announced Galaxy S9 smartphone.

Broadcom results beat expectations days after US president Donald Trump blocked its $117 billion hostile bid for Qualcomm on national security concerns. The company scrapped the offer on Wednesday.

Singapore-based Broadcom, however, said it would continue with its plans to redomicile to the United States, fuelling expectations that the company would likely scout for smaller targets.

"Qualcomm was clearly a unique and very large acquisition opportunity," CFO Tom Krause told investors during a conference call. "Given the maturity of the industry, the consolidation it is seeing and our relative size now, our future acquisitions are much more likely to be funded with cash available on our balance sheet and without the need to flex the balance sheet."

Broadcom's shares were down 1.2% at $264.50 in extended trading on Thursday.

"Typically, Broadcom has to make acquisitions to drive the earnings," said Summit Insight Group analyst Kinngai Chan. "If the company is able to make two or three medium-size acquisitions, then I think the stock will move up again."

But Broadcom officials were still publicly smarting over the loss of the Qualcomm deal. Krause said he was "touched" by an Institutional Shareholder Services report on Wednesday encouraging Qualcomm shareholders to cast protest ballots for Broadcom's director nominees.

Krause said Broadcom believes that "based on the vote tally as of today, the 11 Qualcomm nominees are only garnering between 15% and 16% of the outstanding shares, not necessarily something to celebrate". Qualcomm declined to comment on Krause's comments.

Broadcom, whose WiFi chips are found in Apple iPhone and most Android phones, was eyeing Qualcomm's core baseband chips and licence business that would significantly benefit from the rollout of 5G wireless technology.

Broadcom said first-quarter smartphone results were driven by an increase in orders from a "North American smartphone customer", which most analysts believe is Apple, which released its flagship iPhone X later than normal last year, pushing production into the early part of this year.

CEO Hock Tan said the customer's business was expected to "trend down sharply" in the second quarter, partially offset at Broadcom by more business for a "next-generation flagship [phone] from a large Korean smartphone customer".

Net income attributable to ordinary shares surged to $6.23 billion, or $14.62 per share, in the first quarter ended 4 February, from $239 million, or 57 cents per share, a year earlier.

The company, which announced a quarterly interim dividend of $1.75 per share, said it recorded a gain of $5.79 billion due to the recently enacted US tax law.

Excluding items, the company earned $5.12 per share.

Net revenue rose to $5.33 billion from $4.14 billion.

Analysts on average had expected earnings of $5.05 per share and revenue of $5.32 billion.

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