This 4G Chip Stock Had a Bad First Year

Even though 2011 has been marked by a multitude of developments with 4G wireless technologies, the year hasn't been kind to 4G-chip specialist Sequans Communications (NYS: SQNS) .

The fabless semiconductor designer went public in April at $10, which was slightly lower than the $11 to $13 range that was expected. The French company's chips are used for 4G technologies and support both major standards, LTE and WiMAX. 4G has been all the rage this year, as AT&T (NYS: T) and Verizon (NYS: VZ) have aggressively begun rolling out their LTE networks, and Sprint (NYS: S) is making the switch from WiMAX to LTE.

Sequans' first quarterly earnings release as a public company went mostly well with its digits, although there was little fanfare. It posted a 149% revenue increase to $25.4 million and diluted earnings per share of $0.07.

The stock was still flying under most people's radar, until CNBC financial jester Jim Cramer put in a plug for Sequans in May, saying it should be a huge beneficiary of the "tremendous amount of growth in 4G networking." He acknowledged it was an inherently speculative pick, but also predicted that a slew of brokerages would soon come out with buy ratings as an upward catalyst. His soundboard and jumping jacks helped boost shares to their all-time high of $19.50 over the following week.

The glow didn't last (a typical Cramer effect), with second-quarter results sending shares back to earth, losing 45% in a single day. In September, the company announced that after working with Alcatel-Lucent's (NYS: ALU) Chinese subsidiary through months of testing, its semiconductor technology was approved in China, and it had been collaborating with China Mobile (NYS: CHL) in developing its TD-LTE technology. Investors cheered, sending shares up 68% that day.

Sequans stayed mostly quiet for a few months, but last night dropped a bombshell. Shares have gotten hammered by as much as 32% today after the company updated its fourth-quarter guidance to the downside. Its largest customer, prolific Google Android vendor HTC, has chosen to only take delivery of roughly 40% of chips it had ordered while canceling the remainder. The "customer" had cited worldwide economic troubles and reduced WiMAX demand.

Shares now sit at all-time lows of around $2.41, showing a roughly 76% drop from the offering price. Sequans is taking a beating, just like Clearwire (NAS: CLWR) as LTE has officially won over WiMAX. Clearwire is pursuing LTE, but that's little consolation for the billions already spent on its WiMAX network.

If Sequans can regain footing and focus on LTE offerings, hopefully 2012 will be kinder.

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At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorEvan Niuowns shares of Verizon Communications and AT&T, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned.Click hereto see his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google and China Mobile.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of China Mobile and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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