“Seventy Five dollars! That cannot be,” was my own reaction when I first glanced at the result of my valuation analysis. The number sounded outrageous compared to the current stock price of IDCC – $20.13 after hour on Jan 30th, 2008. It was also 65% above my highest estimate of what QCOM may be willing to pay for IDCC. $75 as IDCC’s stock valuation just did not seem to add up.
So I went back to my model and looked again to see if there were any calculation or transcription errors. There were none. Seventy Five was my model output for all the assumptions and risks I have listed in my earlier articles. With the impending 3G boom and IDCC’s IP portfolio, my assumptions did not seem out of place. In fact, if the company continues to inch up the ASIC market through state-of-the-art engineering efforts like the latest SlimChip, my assumptions about its ASIC business growth may be proven too conservative. The figure below illustrates IDCC valuation as a function of ASIC market share growth percentage. I have assumed a 1% market share as a starting point. As we can see, a 0.5% percent growth each year will put IDCC at a 3% market share in 2012 yielding a valuation of $113.
Similarly, 2008 will bear more concrete information on IDCC’s royalty rates and should also provide positive correction regarding its licensee-base growth. The figure below provides a snapshot of IDCC valuation for various licensing rates per 3G handset sold in the future. The graph indicates the volatility of the share price based on the company’s licensing rates. An average licensing rate of $0.6 for each 3G phone sold will drop its valuation to $43 while a $1 rate can put the share price as high as $107.
I am not discounting a negative correction to my royalty rate assumptions as well, though I think that is less likely. My only other worry is its expense management. I will be closely watching how IDCC spends its revenue in terms of R&D efforts and how it manages personnel growth. I anticipate relatively more money going into development than in research. The company should however strive to balance it with maintaining its IP position. It should also spend commensurate with the design wins it is able to get in the years to come. From my semiconductor industry experience, I can tell that it will be a different ball-game keeping its operations tight to even sustain 50% gross margins from its ASIC business. IDCC is still young on this front and is bound to make a few mistakes before quickly learning the ropes to compete with bigger veterans. The figure below gives a quick overview of how its valuation can fluctuate with operating expenses CAGR. A 20% CAGR will pull the valuation down to $32.7. With all other factors remaining the same, if IDCC is prudent with its spending and keeps the expense growth to 10%, then the price could go up to $105.
So, while I can plug in parameters in my model to pull the valuation down, I am comfortable with a $75 valuation for IDCC. I also think that the valuation can go further up with a high probability. I will therefore sign off with my verdict: LONG TERM BUY.
This segment is a part in the series : Interdigital