After the close yesterday, April 29, Skyworks Solutions (SWKS), a key Apple supplier and a maker of radio frequency chips for smartphones and WiFi networking equipment, reported earnings of $2.37 a share on sales of $1.17 billion for quarter that closed on April 2 2021.
That beat–slightly–Wall Street projections for earnings of $2.35 a share and sales of $1.15 billion.
Year over year Skyworks earnings climbed 77% and sales rose by 53%.
In the current quarter, the fiscal third quarter for the company, Skyworks told analysts that it expects to earn $2.13 a share on sales of $1.1 billion. That works out to year over year growth in earnings of 70% and year over year growth in sales of 49%.
And what happened to the stock in after-hours trading? It got punished. Shares dropped to $183.37, a loss of $14.49 a share from the day’s close at $197.86. That’s a loss of 7.32%.
In this case I don’t think we’re looking at a sell off because Skyworks has climbed too fast or because it’s valuation is too expensive. Before today’s after-hours drop, there shares were up 29.75% for 2021 to date and 88.10% for the last year. In many markets those might be extraordinary numbers but not in this market. And Skyworks shares trade at a modest 21.60 times forward projected earnings per share. Morningstar rates Skyworks Solutions as “fairly valued.”
No, the problem here, is that investors looking at this stock have to wonder how long the company can keep churning out growth in sales of near 50% year over year. The market for radio frequency chips is horrendously competitive and the smart phone market, while it can be counted on to grow quarter after quarter, does show major cycles as phone makers hit the hot spot on features one year but turn out models with features that don’t lead consumers to upgrade the next.
Skyworks looks like it may have the same worries about the growth of the radio frequency chip market. Last week, the company announced that it is acquiring the infrastructure and automotive semiconductor business of Silicon Labs (SLAB) for $2.75 billion. The deal will diversity Skyworks’ revenue base beyond radio frequency chips. The Silicon Labs unit that Skyworks is acquiring includes its power/isolation, time, and broadest products and that should allow Skyworks to expand its revenue from automotive and infrastructure chips. And the deal, expected to close in the third quarter and which needs only U.S. regulatory approval, looks to be a good one. The all-cash price of $2.75 billion is reasonable and the business that Skyworks is acquiring brings in roughly 60% gross markets, which is above the corporate average at Skyworks.
But you don’t have to be given to wild flights of imagination to wonder if the deal is a reflection of Skyworks own projections of slowing growth rates in its current business.
Skhyworks wouldn’t be the only company facing worries about how long it can sustain a currently huge growth rate.
Apple (AAPL) announced blow out earnings and revenue on Wednesday after the close but today, April 29, the stock lost 0.07% in the regular session. A number of analysts openly worried about how long Apple’s hot streak can continue0–even without the problems posed by chip shortages. These kind of growth numbers create increasingly problems for a company down the road. Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi wrote that “ironically, Apple’s Q2 may have been TOO good,” since the company “will be staring down very difficult [comparisons] in essentially every business in FY 22 & next year’s iPhone 13 cycle is likely to be evolutionary/more muted.” This analyst expects that it will be tough for Apple to grow revenue in fiscal 2020 and thinks that revenue could actually fall from his projections for fiscal 2021.
And he’s not alone. Bank of America analyst Wamsi Mohan also sees a tough bar in fiscal 2022. Year to year comparisons in the December quarter will be challenging and the March results will face comparison with the 54% revenue growth that the company reported Wednesday.
In a market where stock prices for technology stocks are driven right now by expectations for constantly higher growth, I think you can see the problem.