LONDON Qualcomm's standing as the leading supplier of application processors for mobile devices and the fact that it is fabless has boosted its market capitalization past Intel Corp., the world's largest chip maker.
San Diego-based Qualcomm is expected to increase its sales by 30 percent in 2012, according to market researcher IC Insights. Qualcomm's annual chips sales are expected to reach about $12.8 billion in annual chip sales, moving it three spots in the researchers' rankings to No. 4.
Although Intel (Santa Clara, Calif.) remains the No. 1 chip maker as measured by sales volume, its standing relies on its dominant position in PCs, a market that is now perceived to be flat at best as consumers embrace smartphones and tablet computers.
Those mobile devices are often powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon processors.
In the eyes of investors who have driven up its market capitalization, the fact that Qualcomm is a fabless company relieves it of the burden of having to invest billions of dollars each year in process development and wafer fabs.
As a result, Qualcomm's share price stands at $61.83, giving it a current market capitalization of $105 billion. Intel's market capitalization stands at $104 billion based on a share price of $20.96.
According to IC Insights, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.'s market cap is about $84 billion, followed by Texas Instruments at about $33 billion. Micron Technologies is valued at $5.75 billion and STMicroelectronics at $4.9 billion. ST's value is about half that of processor IP licensor ARM Holdings.
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