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A good friend of mine thinks that data technology access kingpin Qualcomm can be to the wireless market in the 2010’s what Microsoft was to software in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Granted, Qualcomm is smack in the sweet spot – the premier provider of high-speed data access products and services at a time when wireless technology, especially cell phones, have become pervasive worldwide.

Qualcomm has built a great business providing wireless providers with mobile communications technologies. The company is well managed, has a virtual monopoly on its product, has little debt, and has about $12 billion in cash on hand.

But . . . there is always a “but” . . . cell phone companies won’t always want to pay the fees Qualcomm gets on a regular basis, especially as critical mass pressures drive cell phone prices down. Somewhere in a corner office at Verizon or AT&T, bean counters are devising ways to drive those fees down and Qualcomm may start feeling the heat. Already there has been a spate of insider selling on Qualcomm stock, feeding speculation that the Qualcomm ride may be slowing down.

Still, that shouldn’t stop the company’s forward momentum, if it happens at all. Qualcomm has the market cornered on 3G technology and it is allegedly holding the best patents for wireless technology devices on the market. Essentially, no competitor can get in on the future action in wireless access without giving Qualcomm a slice of the pie.

Altogether, it’s a bullish story. For a long-term play, Qaulcomm seems like a good bet.

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Qualcomm: By the numbers . . .

Headquarters (Founded)

San Diego, California (1985)

Market Cap

$86.76 billion

Industry

Communications Equipment

Revenue

$10.11 billion

Management

CEO Dr. Paul Jacobs (since 2005)
CFO William Keitel (since 2002)

Return on Equity (avg. last three years)
20.2%

Source: Capital IQ

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