Analysts are questioning the pricey valuation of SoftBank Group-backed Arm Holdings after the chip designer forecast weaker than expected revenues.
The firm forecast a third-quarter revenue range this week with a midpoint of $760 million, below analysts’ estimates of $767.84 million, according to LSEG data.
Arm is grappling with uncertainty stemming from new accounting rules on how revenue from large, multi-year licence deals must be recognized in its books.
A delay in a large deal hampered the company’s quarterly forecast in the first earnings since its float in September.
“We are surprised by its weaker royalty outlook vs its smartphone customers like Mediatek and Qualcomm,” said HSBC analyst Frank Lee.
Qualcomm sees 10% sequential sales growth in smartphones given overall Android smartphone restocking. On the other hand, Arm, which develops and licences semiconductor intellectual property to tech giants including Apple, only guided for mid to high single-digit sequential sales growth for its royalty revenues, the brokerage added.
Lee said Arm’s current FY24 price-to-earnings ratio still remains at a significant premium, adding that the valuation “is still stretched in our view despite share price correction.”
The SoftBank Group-controlled firm trades at 45 times its 12-month forward earnings estimates, compared with investor darling Nvidia’s 29.66 and the industry median of 18.13, according to LSEG data.
Even so, Arm’s annual revenue forecast was above estimates, as it benefited from a surge in companies designing new chips to tap the boom in artificial intelligence applications.
“(Arm) along with the broader semi(conductor) industry is seeing strong design activity for data center and AI integration /penetration… but, it will take some time before this begins generating meaningful revenues for some,” said Justin Sumner, a senior portfolio manager at Voya Investment Management, an Arm shareholder.
A dominant player in mobile phone chips, Arm has been looking to expand into other areas such as data centre servers and personal computer chips.
Nasdaq-listed shares of Arm Holdings sank 8% on Thursday before paring some losses to close almost 6% down. The company erased more than $4 billion from its market value.
- Reuters, with additional editing by Vishakha Saxena