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Qualcomm shares gain after earnings beat, CEO says this is just the beginning

Shares of Qualcomm jumped more than 7 percent Thursday after an upbeat earnings report.

CEO Steve Mollenkopf attributed the strong results to the company's execution of a strategy it laid out in 2015.

Qualcomm announced last year that it was cutting about 15 percent of its workforce amid reduced demand and lower sell through in China. This quarter, the company was able to deliver stronger numbers, improving investor and analyst sentiment on the stock.

But Qualcomm is still in the "early innings of where we think we're going to take the company," Mollenkopf said in an exclusive interview with CNBC's "Squawk Alley."

"The key piece is the underlying technology migration to LTE, which has been the engine that is really driving the importance of getting China in a good spot for us as a business. ... China will continue to be an important component of the growth story for Qualcomm moving forward," he said on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the chipmaker reported adjusted earnings of $1.16 on $6.03 billion in revenue for the fiscal third quarter.

Wall Street had been expecting Qualcomm to post earnings of 97 cents on revenue of $5.58 billion, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

The San Diego-based company also saw $2.04 billion in sales from its technology licensing business, above analyst expectations of $1.82 billion, according to FactSet.

Qualcomm shares have rallied nearly 20 percent this year.