Broadcom hasn’t been able to get enough chips to fill a surge in demand for 4K set-top boxes and a steady business in data centre switches.
The launch of Apple's iPhone 7 is expected to boost Broadcom's numbers, although the company still can't get enough chips to handle the demand for 4K set-top boxes or data centre switches. That said, the company’s chief executive, Hock Tan, sees the overall semiconductor industry as stable, not booming.
The outlook came as Broadcom reported revenue of ₹25,427.48 crore ($3.792 billion), up 7% from the prior quarter and a net loss of ₹2,112.25 crore ($315 million), according to generally accepted accounting procedures. In non-GAAP terms that exclude costs related to acquisitions, Broadcom reported quarterly profit of ₹8,670.29 crore ($1.293 billion) and earnings per share (EPS) of ₹193.79 ($2.89), slightly ahead of Wall Street’s expectations.
Tan took over as chief executive after a landmark ₹2.48 lakh crore ($37 billion) bid last year to buy Broadcom, a deal that closed in February. The merged company, which sold off some of its wireless business to Cypress earlier this year, won’t fully realise its cost savings until sometime next year.
“We’ve made rapid progress driving toward our target business model, but we are not yet done with the full realisation of expected cost synergies,” he said in a call with financial analysts.
Tan forecast 8% revenue growth and a 16% rise in EPS in the current quarter, largely driven by the company’s increasing content in the iPhone which Apple is expected to launch September 7. Broadcom’s wireless business surged 27% in the last quarter, largely due to orders related to the iPhone7.
The wireless group should see sales grow another 30% in the current quarter as the iPhone7 ramps, despite an expected seasonal downturn in business in Samsung’s high-end Galaxy phones.
Broadcom has long held a design win for a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth combo chip in the iPhone while Avago had sockets for power amplifiers. So far this year’s iPhone build “compared to last year is not significantly changed, [the growth is] largely all about [Broadcom’s] content changes,” said Tan.
The former Avago’s Film Bulk Acoustic Resonator (FBAR) filters are expected to show up in future iPhone and Galaxy phones. The devices help smartphones add frequency bands and support carrier aggregation for LTE.
Broadcom is converting an Avago 6-inch fab to 8-inch wafers to further lower the cost and power consumption and build up supply of the chips, a move that won’t be complete until 2018. The company also is purchasing leased buildings and testers to further lower its costs and increase its supply capabilities for the filters.
Tan said he sees over the next two years increasing use in high-end handsets of such filters and higher end Wi-Fi parts. “We expect [Broadcom content in smartphones] to increase next year as multi-bands and other features come in and beyond that 802.11ax will be a big step up in content again—it’s all about increasing throughput,” he said.
Tan would not comment when one analyst asked if Broadcom is seeing increasing use of analog ASICs in smartphones.
Meanwhile, Broadcom hasn’t been able to get enough chips from its foundries to fill a surge in demand for 4K set-top boxes and a steady business in data centre switches.
The set-top situation was the result of “very strong demand—much more than normal—driven we guess by roll out of 4K Ultra HD systems coupled with the late summer Olympics where some operators like Comcast had strong promotions,” Tan said.
Supplies of high-end set-top chips as well as Broadcom’s Tomahawk switch have been tight for several months, a situation expected to continue until November. “After much vigorous supply-chain action the situation has eased significantly [for Tomahawk] and by the end of this quarter we will be out of the woods,” he said.
Broadcom’s wired group, which makes up 54% of its total revenues, was flat in the past quarter, a situation it expects will continue in the current quarter.
Factoring out the seasonal iPhone ramp, Tan characterised the overall semiconductor market as “sustaining, it's holding up, it's not really booming just sustaining.”
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