Qualcomm Swoops Onto Empty Playing Field of CES


If you thought this year's Consumer Electronics Showcase was going to be boring without the presence of Apple, Microsoft, or Nokia, think again! Tuesday's keynote address by Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs was full of every conceivable kind of crazy. It had vampires, Big Bird, and Maroon 5, and just when you might have forgotten that Microsoft used to present these keynotes, out walked its CEO, Steve Ballmer. Has the market reacted positively to Qualcomm's bombastic display of technology, or is it rolling its eyes?

No such thing as bad press?
The CES keynote provided an outlet for Qualcomm to get the word out on its latest chip, the Snapdragon 800, which promises a 75% boost in CPU efficiency for mobile phones and tablets (in layman's terms, it helps your tech doodad run faster). CES was also the perfect venue for Qualcomm to introduce itself to the rest of the non-tech-savvy world, and explain how it has improved consumer life until now.

Regardless of whether the presentation sizzled or fizzled, Qualcomm's spectacle forced everyone to pay attention. Now, people are talking about the address with such frenzy that websites are creating Internet animations about it. In the world of "Generation M" (coined by Jacobs to describe younger mobile users), an gallery of animated GIFs could be the ultimate compliment.

Reflections in the market
Judging from Qualcomm's recent stock prices, the Jan. 8 address/laser light show has ultimately benefited the microchip processor. At 10:40 that morning, the company's price was $63.70, and by 4:00 p.m. the next day it had jumped to $64.90, a 1% increase. Leading up to Jan. 8, Qualcomm's daily movement was rather volatile, but generally less than 1%. The presentation gave it an extra boost.

Qualcomm's finances have performed steadily long before it presented at CES. Between September 2011 and September 2012, the company saw a 27% increase in revenue. Even better, it retained a 62% operating percentage last year, as well as a 31% net profit margin. This means that Qualcomm's operations need less than 40% of its revenue to create and distribute chips, and is a sign of the company's overall efficiency. Bigger companies like Intel and Advanced Micro Devices only have operating margins of 32% and 5%, respectively.

Why Qualcomm?
After analyzing Qualcomm's business relationship with Microsoft, the chip company's ascent to Microsoft's keynote stage (and Steve Ballmer's crashing of it) is not all that surprising. Qualcomm has created chips for Microsoft products for several years. What they didn't mention at the CES keynote, however, is that Qualcomm also provides chips for rival companies like Apple, most recently in the iPhone 5. Imagine if CEO Tim Cook had taken the stage at the same time as Ballmer, or worse, a Steve Jobs hologram.

Overall, Qualcomm might have gotten off on an awkward foot with its keynote, but the address still did exactly what the company wanted: Got its name out there. This could be very promising for sales in an already strong tech company.

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The article Qualcomm Swoops Onto Empty Playing Field of CES originally appeared on Fool.com.

Caroline Bennett has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Intel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Intel, Microsoft, and Qualcomm. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Originally published