Qualcomm Sinks On Job Cuts, Roadblock to NXP Deal

Shares of semiconductor manufacturer Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) crashed nearly 5% on Thursday, bringing its year-to-date (YTD) loss to a painful 17.9%, sharply underperforming the S&P 500's 0.7% gain in 2018. (See also: JPM Warns Customers Against Tech Stocks.)

The San Diego-based chipmaker announced that it would let go of approximately 1,500 employees as part of a larger cost-cutting initiative and that it plans to withdraw and refile a merger application with Chinese authorities regarding a deal with Dutch company NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NXPI). Sources told CNBC that the chipmaker is “very concerned” with the fate of the NXP merger. On Thursday, an unnamed spokesperson for China's Commerce Ministry told Reuters that the companies would need to do more than resolve competition concerns for a deal to materialize. 

The news comes amid an already rough period for chip stocks, which have seen their shares weighed on by a more volatile market that has become increasingly hostile to the tech sector. Earlier this year, President Donald Trump blocked Broadcom Ltd.'s (AVGO) $117 bid to takeover Qualcomm, indicating that the move was made on national security concerns and protected U.S. tech against mounting Chinese competition. In January, Qualcomm pledged to reduce annual costs by $1 billion to win investors' support against the hostile takeover bid. 

24% Below November Highs

At a price of $52.57, QCOM stock now reflects an approximate 24% discount to its high reached in November on the announcement of the failed AVGO merger. Bears have also expressed concerns with the company's dispute with Apple Inc. (AAPL), as chipmakers fight to win contracts with the Cupertino, California-based tech giant and its South Korean rival Samsung Electronics Co. for critical cellular components. 

There are some more forgiving on the Street, such as Boris Schlossberg of BK Asset Management who indicated in an interview with CNBC earlier this month that he still "loves" Qualcomm and viewed it as "the best bargain out there" before Thursday's crash. The analyst highlighted upside from a larger shift to 5G technology, the next generation of wireless tech, which he foresees spurring a rise in upgrades and boosting demand for QCOM components. (See also: Qualcomm Is a ‘Value Play’ in Tech Turmoil.)

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