Dolby Laboratories, Inc. Is Ready for Another Earnings Beat

Dolby Laboratories, Inc. Is Ready for Another Earnings Beat

With Dolby Laboratories, set to announce fiscal first quarter 2014 earnings later today, investors need to have an idea of what to expect from the 49-year-old audiophile-inspired company.

Shares of Dolby have drifted up by around 15% since the company reported three months ago, when it crushed expectations with adjusted earnings of $0.57 per share on revenue of $216.7 million. Analysts, for their part, were modeling earnings on the same basis of just $0.33 per share with sales of $210 million.

This time, we already know Dolby has guided for first-quarter revenue from $205 million to $215 million and non-GAAP earnings of $0.42 to $0.50 per share. What's more, for the full 2014 fiscal year, Dolby projected total revenue would range from $900 million to $930 million.

Even so, analysts are still only looking for adjusted first-quarter earnings of $0.34 per share on $212 million in sales -- that's slightly above the midpoint of Dolby's revenue guidance, but the company should be able to handily exceed expectations for earnings by merely hitting the bottom end of its projected range. What's more, for the full fiscal year, the Street only wants Dolby to says revenue will arrive at around $909 million -- which is also well below the midpoint of Dolby's existing guidance.

Here's what's driving Dolby's success
So what's behind Dolby's improving results?

Take the stabilization of PC shipments, licensing from which represented around 21% of Dolby's licensing revenue last quarter. And while recent IDC data indicates broader PC market shipments fell by double digits in 2013, IDC also asserted the PC industry should rebound slightly and hold steady above 300 million units shipped this year, thanks largely to the end-of-life for Windows XP approaching this April.

In turn, this should give Dolby some breathing room to continue reducing its reliance on the PC space, which represented around 25% of Dolby's licensing in the same year-ago period.

But Dolby's also battling mediocre demand from its consumer electronics market, which made up around 17% of licensing last quarter. As a result, Dolby's will need to continue looking to its more promising growth segments to pick up the slack.

Broadcast licensing, for example, most recently grew 8% year over year and comprised 37% of Dolby's total. And while Dolby has largely saturated the broadcast markets in the U.S. and Europe, remember it still remains nicely positioned as its audio standards are adopted by less developed countries as they gradually convert to digital television.

Then there's the mobile space, which represented around 17% of licensing last quarter, good for a solid 34% year-over-year gain thanks to a growing number of impressive smartphone and tablet design wins.

But Dolby's not sitting on its heels in other markets, either. To be sure, investors should also keep an eye out for any updates on the progress of Dolby's supplementary emerging technologies, notably including the recently announced Dolby Vision, increased adoption for the Dolby Atmos Cinema platform, reception of its glasses-free 3-D format, and the rollout of Dolby Voice, which was launched in conjunction with BT Group late last year.

In any case, I'll be sure to touch base after Dolby reports later today. But if last quarter's momentum carries forward, I think Dolby's results could provide music to shareholders' ears.

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