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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - As Qualcomm’s major victory against Apple sent semiconductor stocks to record highs on Wednesday, the sector’s strong recent rally may be at odds with uncertainty about an ongoing downturn in global demand.
With the Philadelphia Semiconductor index jumping 1.4% on Wednesday to its second straight record high and now up 35% year to date, upcoming March-quarter reports could become a make-or-break moment for investors.
“People in the industry we speak to seem incredulous at the stock prices but are obviously more than willing to accept the benefit. Very simply, business is not as good as the stocks would imply and we would challenge someone to suggest their business has improved as much as their stock has,” Semiconductors Advisors wrote in a client note.
Announced on Tuesday, Apple’s surprise settlement with Qualcomm calls for its iPhones to once again use Qualcomm’s modem chips. As a result, Qualcomm’s stock has seen its strongest two-day gain since 1999, up 35% and adding $26 billion to the chipmaker’s market capitalization.
“The resolution caps a multi-year period in which (Qualcomm’s) stock has broadly been viewed as virtually uninvestible, and the resolution will likely go a long way toward assuaging investors who have been terrified of the potential for negative legal and regulatory outcomes,” Bernstein analyst Stacy Rasgon wrote in report.
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