ARM wrestles analysts' guesses to floor after slurping IP Kool-Aid

Chip shop punts 3.8 billion units in the quarter, runs shipments at 450Hz

The first three months of 2015 have been good to ARM, which saw revenues of $348.2m and pre-tax profits of $120.5m in the first quarter, with 3.8 billion ARM-based chips shipped - or more than 450 chips per second.

That’s an increase of 14 per cent on revenue and 24 per cent on profit – well ahead of what analysts predicted, causing shares to bounce back to where they had been before the analysts originally got it wrong.

This was on the basis of chipmaker TSMC, the world’s biggest foundry, doing less well than they had expected.

The strongest area of growth for ARM was processor royalty revenue, which was up 31 per cent, buoyed by sales of designs for the Mali graphics co-processors, although interestingly the iPhone 6 uses an Imagination PowerVR processor and not a Mali. ARM draws attention to it signing four ARMv8-A processor licences and Mali multimedia processor licences, which it says was a highlight of this quarter.

Other highlights include a Cortex-A53 processor implementation on a 28nm process and the first physical IP royalty revenues from a leading-edge FinFET manufacturing process.

Simon Segars, chief executive officer, said:

As the world becomes more digital and more connected, we continue to see an increase in the demand for ARM’s smart and energy-efficient technology, which is driving both our licensing and royalty revenues.

In recent months, many handset OEMs have announced smartphones and tablets based on ARMv8-A and Mali graphics processors. As production of these mobile computers start to ramp up in the second half of the year, ARM will benefit from the higher royalty percentage per chip that these technologies deliver compared to the processors in previous generations of mobile devices.

It’s refreshing to have a leading technology company announce strong figures without feeling the need to hype them with constant references to “cloud”, particularly when ARM would seem to be a candidate for laying claim to the space. ®

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