Arm Holdings: Short-Term Dip, Long-Term Potential Amid Strong Licensing

TipsForTraders | May 10, 2024

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Arm Holdings PLC (ARM) experienced a dip in its stock price following its latest earnings report, which did not quite meet the elevated expectations set by Wall Street for the prominent chip-design company. Despite the stock paring some of its intraday losses, it closed lower, reflecting investor reactions to the mixed financial outcomes presented.

Mark Lipacis, an analyst at Evercore ISI, described the backdrop of the report as notably challenging, one of the toughest in their coverage universe. Lipacis remains optimistic about ARM’s prospects over the next year, although he suggests the stock might consolidate in the near term as momentum investors could start taking profits based on the nuances of revenue growth. He maintains an outperform rating but adjusted his price target down from $156 to $145.

However, there’s a silver lining in ARM’s future financial outlook, particularly in its licensing business. Lipacis observed that while the company’s royalty forecast fell short of the consensus, its licensing guidance was more promising. Given that licensing often precedes royalty revenue by one to three years, these positive licensing trends might indicate future gains in royalties.

John DiFucci of Guggenheim echoed this sentiment, noting the lower-than-expected royalty revenue guidance was balanced by stronger license revenue growth expectations, which could positively influence future royalties. DiFucci also pointed out that the royalty projections considered the prevailing macroeconomic conditions, acknowledging the impact of broader market dynamics on the company’s performance. He highlighted softness in sectors like automotive, industrial IoT, and networking but viewed these as cyclical rather than structural problems. DiFucci remains bullish on ARM’s potential in the mobile and cloud segments and has increased his price target to $100 from $93.

Vivek Arya of BofA Global Research highlighted another strong point in ARM’s financials—its impressive free cash flow (FCF), which stood at 32% of revenue last fiscal year and is anticipated to climb to 36% this fiscal year, potentially exceeding 40% by fiscal 2026. This FCF margin surpasses that of nearly all software and most semiconductor firms in the S&P 500 index, underscoring ARM’s financial health and efficiency. Despite this, Arya acknowledges the volatility risks associated with ARM’s stock, stemming from its premium pricing, small trading float, and concentrated ownership structure. His price objective for the stock stands at $150.

In Thursday’s trading session, ARM’s shares fell by 2.3%. Over the past month, the stock has declined by 21%, yet it remains up by 38% since the beginning of the year.

In conclusion, while ARM’s latest earnings report did not dazzle investors leading to a stock price decline, the underlying strength seen in its licensing operations and the robust free cash flow margins provide a solid foundation for future growth. Analysts remain generally positive, seeing the current dip as a potential consolidation phase before further upward movement. Investors may find comfort in these longer-term growth indicators, despite the current volatility and market challenges faced by the company.