Qualcomm surprises with higher-than-expected net income

Amid the doom and gloom of low handset average selling prices plaguing Motorola and chip makers like Texas Instruments, Qualcomm surprised investors by reporting a 5 percent increase in net income for the fiscal quarter ended Dec. 31st. Qualcomm said net income increased to $648 million, or 38 cents per diluted share, from $620 million, or 36 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue rose 16 percent to $2.02 billion. The profit was driven by chip sales in high-end phones. Analysts were encouraged by Qualcomm's estimate of ASPs at $210 in 2007, higher than an earlier estimate of $205. The driver is data-featured phones, which tend to increase the selling price. But even in emerging markets, CDMA phones are priced a bit higher than GSM handsets.

And all eyes are on the patent skirmish between Qualcomm and Nokia. The two are renegotiating a license agreement that expires in April. According to Qualcomm President Steven Altman, it's unlikely the two companies will reach a new deal by the deadline. It appears Qualcomm is ready for a bitter fight. He said the company plans to significantly increase its estimate for legal expenses in the fiscal year to battle what he called an "orchestrated" attack on the way Qualcomm does business. According to an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Altman said he expects legal costs to exceed $200 million in the 12 months ending in September, up from about $100 million in the prior fiscal year.

For more about Qualcomm's fiscal first-quarter results:
- check out this release
- read this article from The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)