Profits jump at smartphone processor firm ARM

Wednesday 24 July 2013 10.03
ARM's chip architecture is used in the vast majority of smartphones
ARM's chip architecture is used in the vast majority of smartphones

British chip designer ARM Holdings beat second-quarter expectations with a 30% rise in adjusted pretax profit, helped by demand for its latest processors and graphics technology.

In the first set of results since Simon Segars took over as chief executive from Warren East on 1 July, the Cambridge-based company reported pretax profit of £86.6 million on revenue up 26% to £171.2 million.

ARM has outpaced the wider semiconductor market for the past five years or so, helped by the dominance of its processor architecture in smartphones and tablet computers.

There have been some signs of softness at the top end of the smartphone market, marked by weaker than expected sales of Samsung's flagship Galaxy S4 smartphone. Apple, however, comfortably beat forecasts for iPhone sales.

Finance Director Tim Score said that he expects the smartphone market to remain strong, though the 50%-plus growth rates of recent years are easing down.

However ARM does not rely on the top end of the market, Score said. "All smartphones contain more ARM technology than less sophisticated phones and therefore generate higher royalties."

Shares in ARM reached a high of £11.11 in May, exceeding the level they were trading at in the dot-com boom of 2000.

They have since come off by about 20%, but were up 2.3% at 918.5p 7.33am this morning.

ARM said its partners signed 25 licences for its technology in the quarter, including five for its latest Cortex-A designs and seven for its Mali graphics technology.

Processor design licensing revenue rose 34% year on year to £56.9 million, comfortably beating market expectations. Analysts at Liberum expected 18.7% growth.

The company has been increasing its share of the graphics processing market, and yesterday Samsung said it had selected Mali for its latest high-end processor, ousting rival Imagination Technologies.

Royalties from chips shipped by partners, such as Qualcomm and Texas Instruments, reported a quarter in arrears, rose 26% year-on-year to £77.7 million, broadly in line with expectations.

ARM reiterated its guidance for full-year revenue to at least meet market expectations.

Score said he expects analyst consensus to rise after the second-quarter results, to about $1.09 billion for the year.

Analysts expected the company to report pretax profit of £82.5 million on revenue of £165 million for the quarter, according to a company-supplied consensus.