August 18, 2016

    Seven-day webcast replays are expiring everywhere as earnings season comes to an end.

    If you're a regular listener of corporate earnings calls, you know how it goes: the drone of the well rehearsed scripted section, the Q&A where analysts pick a favorite word and make it the theme of the call, and the one analyst who expertly packs a twelve-part question into the last 60 seconds, as listeners’ fingers hover over the “end” button.

    Let us now turn our attention to the most exciting but often overlooked feature of earnings calls: the metaphors.

    Metaphorically Speaking

    There are certainly commonalities, regardless of which industry you follow, yet looking over this season's transcripts, it appears we have many unique metaphors of our own. In true RF fashion, they're tidily packaged into categories:

    • Weather — As in, "We're forecasting a profitable quarter, given the balance of headwinds in the smartphone market and tailwinds in wireless networking." The Wall Street Journal knows these well.
    • Sports — As in, "We’re in the early innings of 5G, but with field trials running hard, we are on track to knock it out of the park once standards are set."
    • Automotive — As in, "Our focus on high growth segments drives alignment with the connected home and other markets gaining traction to accelerate our overall growth."
    • Construction — As in, "Filter design talent is the foundation for building a core competency in integrated modules and paving the way for future marquee smartphone designs."

    Fire, gardening, sailing … the list of metaphors goes on. If not said during the scripted session, these metaphors seem to pour out of the mouths of the analysts listening in. All is well and good until we start mixing so many metaphors we end up with no less than four in a single sentence. As an analyst once opined,

    "While unit headwinds and inventory burn could weigh on results, we believe we are at the trough of the cycle and expect RF fundamentals to improve."

    Now there's a sentence that only an analyst can understand.

    The Trends of RF

    Metaphors aside, there are certain terms we're hearing more prevalently on today's earnings calls. These terms reflect the trends of most interest to investors and the industry, and tracking them gives us a glimpse at the current and future state of RF.

    • Filters and filtering — As in the solutions to complex interference challenges that prevent signals transmitted and received from interfering with one another.
    • Carrier aggregation and MIMO — As in the technologies that combine frequencies to increase data throughput and maximize precious RF spectrum.
    • 5G — As in the next generation of cellular networking that promises significantly faster data speeds and other improvements.
    • Integration — As in the integration of multiple RF components into modules or systems on a chip (SoC) to offer a more complete RF solution.
    • The Internet of Things (IoT) — As in devices that speak to other devices and systems, as well as utilize web intelligence to become smarter over time, both in consumer and industrial markets.
    • GaN — As in, well, more on that in my upcoming post.

    So, there you have it: RF earnings calls … in a nutshell. (See what I did there?)

    This article first appeared in Brent's Musings on Microwave Journal.


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    Brent Dietz

    About the Author

    Brent Dietz
    Director of Corporate Communications

    Brent has seen a lot of engineering and technology during 30+ years in the tech industry. His primary role is making geek-speak understandable to the non-geek public, reporters and nontechnical analysts. It's challenging — simplifying without distorting — and it helps to have a sense of humor. Brent does, which he shares with readers from time to time.