Microsoft embraces ARM Holdings: what the analysts are saying

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As shares in ARM Holdings soared on news that Microsoft is to design a Windows operating system compatible with ARM’s chips, analysts assessed what Microsoft’s embrace means for the Cambridge-based company.

The move marks Microsoft’s biggest step away from its long-standing, lucrative alliance with Intel, to team up with ARM to take on Apple in the tablet and smartphone arena.
Analysts at Investec said the significance of a move by Microsoft away from the ‘Wintel’ model – Windows running on Intel’s archictecture – is hard to overstate.
“Above all, last night’s confirmation shows a determination on the part of Microsoft to compete seriously with Apple and Google Android-based devices in the tablet and portable device market,” said the broker.
“The new technology will eventually apply to a group of products, not just tablets, although it will realistically be two to three years before ARM based products will be released. ARM’s support from Microsoft should now allow its chip family to make material inroads into the high-end tablet space, and potentially low-end laptops (notebooks) – an area previously the preserve of other, more power-hungry chips.”
UBS analysts also said they views Microsoft’s decision as very positive for ARM in the long term. Assuming the ARM eco-system gains a 50pc share of the PC system-on-chip market, it could generate around $100 million of annual revenue for the company, the broker added.

But analysts at Peel Hunt kept their “sell” rating on ARM. “This conformation is a major boost for ARM in its battle with Intel but unlikely to impact numbers until late in 2012,” said the broker.
Speculation that Intel could make a play for ARM has also helped boost the chip designer’s shares of late, but analysts remain sceptical about such a prospect.
Analysts at Investec said they regarded competition issues as too great to make any such bid possible.
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This post was submitted by Mudit Agrawal.

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