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Silicon Laboratories Positions Itself for Internet-of-Things Growth

Silicon Labs' new BGM113 Blue Gecko Bluetooth module. IMAGE SOURCE: SILICON LABORATORIES.

Silicon Laboratories (NASDAQ: SLAB) announced first-quarter 2016 results Wednesday morning, and the fabless-semiconductor specialist was rewarded with a 2.9% jump in share price when all was said and done in the regular trading session. But while Silicon Labs' quarter might not look particularly impressive at first glance -- as revenue and earnings continued to fall on a year-over-year basis -- the company also made significant progress in positioning itself to capitalize on the burgeoning Internet-of-Things space.

Let's take a closer look at what Silicon Labs accomplished in Q1.

Silicon Labs results: The raw numbers

Metric

Q1 2016 Actuals

Q1 2015 Actuals

Growth (YOY)

Sales

$162 million

$163.7 million

(1%)

Net income

$5.8 million

$6.4 million

(8.9%)

GAAP earnings per share

$0.14

$0.15

(6.7%)

Data source: Silicon Laboratories.

What happened with Silicon Labs this quarter?

  • On an adjusted basis, which excludes items such as stock-based compensation and acquisition costs, net income came in at $42.2 million, or $0.51 per diluted share.
  • These results came in well above Silicon Labs' guidance provided in February, which called for revenue of $156 million to $162 million, and adjusted earnings per share between $0.42 and $0.48.
  • IoT revenue climbed 5.5% sequentially from Q4, to $70.9 million, exceeding expectations and setting a new quarterly high mark for the company.
  • Infrastructure revenue also set a new company record, rising 3.3% sequentially to $31.6 million.
  • Broadcast revenue fell 3.1% sequentially, to $38.4 million
  • Access revenue fell 6.7% sequentially, to $21.1 million.
  • Adjusted gross margin was 59.6%, down from 60% in the same year-ago period, but still slightly above expectations given favorable tape-out expenses during the quarter.
  • Operating income fell slightly, to $25 million, or 15.5% of total revenue.
  • Multiple new products were launched, notably:
    • The pre-certified BGM113 Blue Gecko Bluetooth module for small-footprint, low-energy short-range wireless applications, making it ideal for radio-frequency applications in smartphone accessories, wearable sports and fitness products, wireless locks, and point-of-sale devices.
    • The IoT-centric multiprotocol Wireless Gecko system-on-a-chip families, aimed at providing customers a one-stop-shop approach to multiprotocol IoT connectivity.
    • A new isolated gate driver family of products, which offers the industry's highest noise immunity for power supplies, solar inverters, and electric and hybrid vehicles.
  • The company repurchased just under $18.5 million in shares during the quarter, leaving roughly $82 million remaining in Silicon Labs' 2016 repurchase authorization.
  • Cash flow from operations totaled $42 million, up $18 million from last year's first quarter.
  • Subsequent to the end of the quarter, Silicon Labs entered into an agreement to sell a number of non-strategic patents, which will contributor $5 million to second-quarter revenue with no associated impact to cost of goods sold.

What management had to say 
Silicon Labs CEO Tyson Tuttle stated:

Strong top-line performance, fueled by record revenue in IoT and Infrastructure, combined with good gross margin results and favorable opex, drove a solid beat in first-quarter non-GAAP EPS. Over the past 20 years, we've established ourselves as a leading innovator of silicon, software, and solutions for a more connected world. The launch of our multiprotocol Wireless Gecko portfolio enables game-changing functionality for our customers and will drive our growth and success in the broad IoT market.

Looking forward 
Including the $5 million in patent-sale revenue, Silicon Labs expects current-quarter revenue of $168 million to $173 million, the midpoint of which represents 3.4% year-over-year growth. Including an expected $0.09-per-share after-tax benefit related to the patent sale, that should translate to adjusted (non-GAAP) earnings between $0.61 and $0.67, up from adjusted earnings of $0.56 per share in last year's second quarter.

To be fair, excluding the patent sale, the midpoints of both ranges would have meant continued year-over-year declines in revenue and earnings. But as Silicon Labs continues to enjoy relative success with its solutions catering toward IoT customers, I think investors can still be pleased with the company's position today.