September 3, 2008 / 2:59 PM / in 9 years

UPDATE 1-Qualcomm says cell phone replacements slowing

(Adds stock activity, analyst comment)

NEW YORK, Sept 3 (Reuters) - Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) is seeing some signs that customers are becoming slower to upgrade their cell phones, Chief Executive Paul Jacobs said in an interview with cable television network CNBC on Wednesday.

The comment sent Qualcomm stock down 2 percent and cell phone maker Nokia NOK1V.HE down 4 percent. Shares of Motorola Inc MOT.N and Research In Motion RIM.TORIMM.O also fell, as did wireless chip maker Texas Instruments Inc TXN.N as investors worried about holiday phone demand.

“We’re seeing some evidence there’s a lengthening of replacement cycles,” Jacobs said, explaining that customers appeared to be holding onto their phones longer in developed markets such as Japan and South Korea.

Jacobs said consumers tended to keep the same phone anywhere from a year to two years, depending on the region.

Jefferies & Co analyst Bill Choi said the comment, which he believes could also be applied to the United States, fueled worries among investors who are already anxious to know whether phone demand would meet the typically high expectations for the upcoming holiday shopping period.

“People are nervous about what happens to handset demand,” Choi said. “That probably got stirred up by the Qualcomm comments.”

    If demand is weak, companies now ramping up production for a busy season could be left with phone inventories, he said.

    Nokia’s U.S. shares were down $1, or 4 percent, at $23.45, while Motorola was off 4 cents at $9.47, both on the New York Stock Exchange.

    Qualcomm shares were down $1.07, or more than 2 percent, to $50.10 on Nasdaq. Its biggest rival, TI, saw its shares fall 53 cents, or 2 percent, to $23.90 on the NYSE.

    RIM stock was off $1, or nearly 1 percent, at $117.35 on Nasdaq, where Palm Inc was down 14 cents, or almost 2 percent, at $8.31. (Reporting by Sinead Carew, editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Lisa Von Ahn)

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