Qualcomm Q1 net grows 36%, Davis named new CFO

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Chip maker raises full-year guidance after strong quarterly results.

Qualcomm Inc.’s fiscal first-quarter profit surged 36% as brisk demand from smartphone manufacturers continued to drive the chip maker’s stronger-than-expected results.

The San Diego chip maker also said Chief Financial Officer William Keitel plans to retire after 11 years at the post, and tapped Applied Materials Inc. CFO George S. Davis to replace him. Mr. Keitel plans to step down March 11, though he will stay on as an adviser to Chief Executive Paul Jacobs through the end of the year.

Mr. Davis, 55 years old, is a 13-year veteran of Applied Materials, a provider of machines used to manufacture chipsets, solar panels and displays.

Qualcomm’s stronger quarterly results prompted the chip maker to raise its full-year guidance. It now sees per-share earnings of $4.25 to $4.45 on revenue of $23.4 billion to $24.4 billion. Qualcomm in November projected per-share earnings of $4.12 to $4.32 a share on revenue of $23 billion to $24 billion.

For the second quarter, the chip maker expects an adjusted per-share profit of $1.10 to $1.18 a share on revenue of $5.8 billion to $6.3 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters recently projected per-share earnings of $1.10 on revenue of $5.88 billion.

Qualcomm’s growth has surfed the rising popularity of smartphones, as the company generates revenue from the sale of wireless chips and from license payments tied to its technology. Despite a trend toward internally designed processors, smartphone makers like Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. have continued to use Qualcomm’s modem chips, which employ the next-generation wireless technology LTE.

The company’s most visible recent problem has been meeting demand, but supply constraints were expected to recede by the end of 2012.

For the quarter ended Dec. 30, Qualcomm reported a profit of $1.91 billion, or $1.09 a share, up from $1.4 billion, or 81 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding acquisition-related charges, stock-based compensation and other impacts, per-share earnings rose to $1.26 from 97 cents.

Revenue rose 29% to $6.02 billion. The company in November projected per-share earnings of $1.08 to $1.16, with revenue of $5.6 billion to $6.1 billion.