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Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf. Photo: Qualcomm

The coronavirus will have a significant impact on Qualcomm's smartphone sales this quarter, with units down as much as 30% from prior estimates, CEO Steve Mollenkopf said in an interview on Wednesday.

Driving the news: Mollenkopf spoke right after Qualcomm posted March earnings and revenue ahead of expectations, with its current quarter financial outlook roughly in line with estimates.

Why it matters: Qualcomm has been gearing up for a big year thanks to the shift to 5G, which should help it gain market share from rivals and earn more revenue per phone than it did for 4G devices.

  • That estimate is based on the assumption that business in China continues to recover and that sales elsewhere begin to recover around June.
  • Mollenkopf said the company expects between 175 million and 225 million 5G phones to be sold this year, in line with its previous forecast.
  • Qualcomm didn't give a full-year forecast for total smartphone shipments, which many analysts believe will take a big hit due to the coronavirus. "We clearly have had impact," Mollenkopf told Axios. "We are forecasting impact."

Between the lines: The company reported per-share earnings for the quarter that ended March ahead of expectations, while its outlook for the current quarter, which ends in June, was roughly in line with analysts' expectations.

  • For the quarter ending in March, the company reported per-share earnings of 88 cents on revenue of $5.2 billion. Analysts were looking for per-share earnings of around 76 cents on revenue of $5.02 billion, per Yahoo Finance.
  • For the quarter that ends in June, Qualcomm sees per-share earnings of between 60 cents and 80 cents on revenue of $4.4 billion to $5.2 billion. Analysts were forecasting earnings of 75 cents per share, on average, with revenue of about $4.89 billion.
  • Mollenkopf said that China continues to move fast toward 5G, as does the U.S., while momentum has slowed in Europe.
  • "The whole episode has shown us 5G is even more important," Mollenkopf told Axios, noting that next-generation cellular technology can play a key role in areas like telemedicine and distance learning.

Mollenkopf said that the company is cutting costs where prudent, but will remain focused on taking advantage of strong 5G demand.

  • "We continue to add people in key areas," he said on a conference call with analysts.
  • The company also signed key licensing deals during the quarter with Oppo and Vivo, two big Chinese smartphone brands.

Qualcomm shares rose in after-hours trading, with the stock recently trading at $81.50, up more than 3%.

Go deeper: Pandemic clouds smartphone sales as life goes immobile

Go deeper

Uber stock drops after Q2 earnings results

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Despite beating analyst revenue expectations for Q2, Uber missed earnings predictions and posted an overall drop in its business.

Why it matters: Uber has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic as people continue to limit their activities outside the home.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Aug 5, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Electric vehicle startup Nikola claims progress but stock plunges

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Nikola Corp., a company planning to build electric and hydrogen fuel-cell trucks, posted an $86.6 million quarterly net loss Tuesday in what was its first earnings report after going public in June.

Why it matters: Nikola is attracting lots of attention for plans to build a line of semi-trucks, as well as a pickup, in the coming years as it tries to break through in those fledgling markets.

Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

The state of play: Schumer announced the schedule after reaching an agreement with Republicans. The House will transmit the article of impeachment against the former president late Monday.