Wolfson sales jump due to music on smartphones

Mike Hickey is confident about Wolfson's growth performance. Picture: Complimentary
Mike Hickey is confident about Wolfson's growth performance. Picture: Complimentary
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Wolfson Microelectronics, the audio-chip developer, is confident it can widen its customer base as it taps into the booming demand for music on the move.

Products designed by the Edinburgh-based firm already feature in home hi-fi components, set-top boxes and televisions but smartphones are forming an increasingly crucial part of its business.

In recent weeks, the firm has unveiled key supply deals with Lenovo, the Chinese computing giant, and South Korea’s Samsung, one of the Scottish company’s biggest customers. Wolfson’s audio devices will feature in the latest generation Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphones.

Unveiling a near-60 per cent rise in first-quarter revenues to $48.1 million (£31.1m) yesterday, Wolfson chief executive Mike Hickey said the firm’s newest chip designs allowed more features and software to be incorporated, including high-definition audio and noise cancelling.

“Our traditional markets such as home audio, cameras, TVs and set-top boxes are producing much smarter devices and are functioning more like smartphones,” he noted. “We are able to take similar parts and move them across more categories with wider activity and a wider customer base.”

Hickey added: “Samsung is a big proportion of our revenues but the reality is they have the largest share in smartphones. You can’t participate without having them as a big customer.”

Wolfson – spun-out from Edinburgh University in 1984 and floated on the stock market in 2003 – narrowed its operating losses to $6.3m from $8.4m a year earlier.

Hickey said year-on-year revenue growth across the first half was expected to be between 30 and 45 per cent. “Even at the low end that is decent growth,” he added.