February 13, 2019 / 12:43 PM / a year ago

Chip designer Ceva sees higher 2019 sales as profit dips

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli chip designer Ceva Inc on Wednesday reported a drop in fourth-quarter profit that missed estimates but the company forecast a slight increase in sales for this year.

Ceva reported earnings of 23 cents per diluted share in the fourth quarter excluding one-time items, compared with 25 cents a year earlier. Revenue fell 1 percent to $21.4 million.

The company, which licenses signal processing platforms and artificial intelligence processors, was forecast to earn 26 cents a share on revenue of $22.1 million, according to I/B/E/S data from Refinitiv.

For 2019, Ceva expects revenue of $80 million, up from $78 million last year but well below analyst forecasts for $88.3 million.

Ceva’s shares were down about 3.3 percent in early trading on Nasdaq.

Ceva signed 13 licensing agreements in the quarter, including one with a company targeting the 5G mobile market that was one of the largest signed in Ceva’s history.

“Our fourth quarter royalties came in lower than expected, reflecting softness at a large smartphone OEM (original equipment manufacturer), primarily due to the slowing economy in China and lower overall demand for entry-level phones in emerging markets,” CEO Gideon Wertheizer said.

Licensing and related revenue was up 17 percent in the quarter to $10.5 million, while royalty revenue dropped 14 percent to $10.9 million.

The company said it bought back $3 million in stock in the fourth quarter, bringing its total stock repurchase for 2018 to $20 million.

Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Steven Scheer and Jane Merriman

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