* Q3 EPS ex-items $0.16 vs $0.17 forecast
* Q3 revenue down 19 percent to $12 million
* Sees growth as smartphones fall to $100
* Predicts 2012 revs $53.1-$54.1 mln, EPS $0.76-$0.80
* Shares up 9.1 pct on Nasdaq
By Steven Scheer
JERUSALEM, Nov 1 Israeli mobile chip designer
Ceva Inc said it expected growth in phone upgrades in
China to spur earnings per share which dropped 40 percent and
missed expectations in the third quarter.
Among the 698 million customers of the world's biggest
mobile carrier China Mobile, just 75 million are
connected to 3G services, Ceva said.
But Ceva will benefit from a fall in smartphone prices to
around $100 and below, Chief Executive Gideon Wertheizer told a
conference call of analysts.
Ceva forecast 2012 revenue of $53.1-$54.1 million, compared
with a previous estimate of $51.9-$55.9 million and market
expectations of $54.3 million. It lowered its earnings per share
estimate to 76-80 cents from 78-82 cents.
"Ceva should be past its first-half weakness and should
start to show unit and topline growth," said Vijay Rakesh, an
analyst at Stern Agee.
Shares in Nasdaq-listed Ceva rose 9.1 percent to $16.53 in
Earlier this year, Ceva cut its 2012 earnings and revenue
estimates due to weaker-than-expected sales at key customer
Companies such as Intel, Broadcom,
Spreadtrum and ST Ericsson license
Ceva's technology to build chips known as digital signal
Ceva said its results continued to be hit by a weak global
economy and poor 2G handset sales.
"While general macro-economic concerns adversely impacted
our licensing revenue, we continue to see robust demand for our
... DSP technologies from customers targeting next-generation
products," said Wertheizer.
"Despite some headwinds in our royalty growth, our wireless
customer base made significant inroads into the 3G smartphone
space during the quarter," he said.
He cited 7 percent sequential unit growth, key design
wins and third quarter production ramp-ups at Huawei, Lenovo,
Samsung and ZTE.
Ceva reported third-quarter earnings per share excluding
one-off items of 16 cents a diluted share, compared with 26
cents a year earlier. Revenue slid 19 percent to $12 million.
The company was forecast to earn 17 cents a share on revenue
of $12.3 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Ceva projects fourth-quarter revenue of $12.4-$13.4 million
and EPS excluding one-time items of 16-20 cents. Analysts had
expected revenue of $13.2 million and EPS of 20 cents.
During the third quarter, Ceva bought back 170,000 of its
shares for $2.9 million and said it still has 730,000 shares
available for repurchase under its existing buyback programme.