Arm’s shares get helping hand as IPO banks weigh in with ratings

By Aditya Soni and Roshan Abraham

(Reuters) -Shares of Arm Holdings rose 3% on Monday after a wave of “buy” ratings from Wall Street analysts who said that the chip designer’s dominance in the smartphone market and potential for expansion into data centers could power earnings growth.

The flurry of recommendations marked the end of the quiet period for the nearly 30 banks that underwrote Arm’s initial public offering, which raised $4.87 billion for owner SoftBank Group last month in the biggest listing of the year.

The “buy” or equivalent ratings, from brokerages including J.P.Morgan and Goldman Sachs, are a vote of confidence in Arm’s plan to grow revenue by charging higher royalty fees and increasing its share of the cloud and automotive markets.

Before Monday, only those brokerages that did not work on the IPO were allowed to offer recommendations on the stock, and their opinion was more skeptical due to concerns about the slump in the smartphone market and Arm’s diversification efforts.

Three of them had a “hold” rating on the stock and one “strong sell,” LSEG data showed.

The British company gets most of its revenue from the smartphone market, in which it has a 99% share across Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS devices.

Goldman Sachs said on Monday it expected “Arm to not only expand on its presence in the smartphone market primarily through higher royalty rates, but to also extend its reach across applications to which it is under-indexed.”

The brokerage and others including Citi, Deutsche Bank and TD Cowen set price targets in the range of $57 to $85, with the most bullish view coming from Rosenblatt Securities. Arm shares last closed at $54.08, compared with the IPO price of $51.

The stock was last up 2.8% at $55.56 on Monday, while the Philadelphia Semiconductors index slipped more than 1%.

TD Cowen said Arm faces some challenges from the weak smartphone market, but its current revenue represented an “under-monetization of its importance to the industry”.

Citi predicted that Arm could become one of the fastest-growing large chip companies with a compounded annual revenue increase of 18% through fiscal year 2027.

Such growth would benefit SoftBank, which told investors ahead of the Arm IPO that it plans to remain the majority owner in the company it considers its crown jewel.

But some brokerages, including HSBC, urged caution, saying Arm’s shares could remain range-bound as uncertainty over a smartphone market recovery pressures earnings.

At least 17 brokerages started covering Arm, with an average rating of “buy” and a median price target of $63.50.

(Reporting by Roshan Abraham in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza, Anil D’Silva and Shounak Dasgupta)