Amid rumors that Qualcomm is in talks to buy NXP Semiconductors, shares of the Dutch chipmaker have gained 24% over the the past two days to almost $102. But analysts who follow the industry think the price would still have to rise considerably to get a deal done.
That’s largely because NXP’s shares were in a swoon until the M&A rumors hit. Earlier this year, NXP shares sold off over concerns that iPhone sales were slowing because NXP is a major chip supplier to Apple. Investors also dinged NXP over its $12 billion acquisition of Freescale Semiconductor, which had yet to show the expected benefits to the bottom line.
But CEO Rick Clemmer has plenty of experience with making big deals and analysts expect he’ll hold out for more. As CEO of Agere Systems a decade ago, Clemmer recognized a 130% gain in under two years selling the company to LSI Logic. Agere, which made chips for computer networking and storage gear, was spun out of Lucent Technologies and sold to LSI a few years later for $4 billion.
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Considering the Agere experience is “instructive” to analyzing the situation with NXP (NXPI) and Qualcomm, said analyst Mark Lipacis at Jeffries & Co. NXP could go for as much as $172 a share, Lipacis added.
Other analysts were a bit more down to earth. Stacy Rasgon at Bernstein Research, who had issued a report musing about possible NXP-Qualcomm deal just hours before the rumors emerged on Thursday, said he was also expecting a deal price well above the current stock price.
“We suspect it is higher than where it closed last night (at) $96, up (about) 17%,” he wrote on Friday. “We had used (about) $120 as our base case in our note yesterday.”
Investors have long hoped that Qualcomm CEO Steven Mollenkopf would make a big deal after he largely sat out last year’s furious merger wave. And many analysts and investors say that a Qualcomm-NXP deal would make sense for both general industry-wide reasons as well as the specific match between the two companies.
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Rod Hall at JP Morgan didn’t predict a price, but analyzed a deal at $150 a share, a level which he called an “unlikely high price.” Even such a price would not stretch Qualcomm’s (QCOM) cash and borrowing ability to make a deal, Hall wrote on Friday.
“We doubt a potential bid would rise to that level but we do believe a further healthy premium over the current (about) $96 NXPI trading level would be doable,” he wrote.