By Wallace Witkowski
Earnings preview: Some analysts think price of Nvidia stock has moved too high despite continuing strong growth, but stealing more market share for server chips could make a difference
Nvidia Corp. is expected to show strong quarterly growth yet again, but the hardware powerhouse's stock may already have big results baked in.
Nvidia (NVDA) is scheduled to report third-quarter results after the closing bell on Wednesday, after a massive run higher for its stock. Shares have gained more than 50% in the past three months and have already more than doubled this year, pushing the chip maker's market capitalization past $700 billion for the first time.
Hopes that the company can be a major player in a metaverse future, continued gains in data-center chips and the never-ending popularity of videogames have combined to boost Nvidia that high, but some analysts are now concerned that shares will struggle to move higher even with more strong numbers in the coming report.
Wedbush analyst Matt Bryson recently downgraded Nvidia's stock to neutral from outperform, while admitting that it was just because the valuation has moved so high. Bryson even increased his price target to $300 from $220, but that still only catches up to the shares' recent move higher.
"While typically we would want to tie a rating change to some sort of negative catalyst; frankly there is none," Bryson said, noting that the period between data-center orders and deliveries are getting longer, indicating increased demand.
Bryson said that while he is "less clear on what the Metaverse might eventually entail," he said that Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. (FB) building up its data centers and Unity Software Inc.'s (U)recent announcement to buy Weta Digital "suggest that companies believe the concept/technology is approaching and it appears likely graphics and AI will play a major role in its development."
The one area that could make a difference for Nvidia is data center. Among chip makers, the biggest battlefield right now is who supplies hyperscale data centers, those massive buildings full of servers that serve as the backbone for the cloud and the internet.
Following Intel Corp. (INTC) and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) earnings, the trend of Intel losing market share continues as it reported a lower-than-expected 10% gain in data-center sales following quarters of declines, while the unit that includes AMD's data-center sales surged 69% following quarters of more than doubling sales. AMD also its data-center sales now counted for about 25% of its revenue.
Analysts surveyed by FactSet expect Nvidia's data-center sales to come in at $2.75 billion, or a 45% gain from the year-ago quarter.
Jefferies analyst Mark Lipacis includes Nvidia in with the market-share capture, noting that Intel's data-center market share has dropped from around 82% two years ago to about 60% currently. Meanwhile, AMD's has grown from about 5% to 10%, and Nvidia's has grown from 10% to 26%.
That said, Lipacis believes "that Nvidia and AMD share gains from Intel in datacenter accelerated during the quarter."
But the data center is not all about hardware as Nvidia Chief Executive Jensen Huang highlighted during last week's GTC that showcased new AI additions to the company's Omniverse platform, supporting Evercore ISI analyst C.J. Muse's quarter-ago observation that maybe Nvidia should be viewed more like a software company
What to expect
Earnings: Of 36 analysts surveyed by FactSet, Nvidia on average is expected to post adjusted earnings of $1.11 a share, up from $1.05 a share expected at the beginning of the quarter and 73 cents a share reported a year ago. All figures are adjusted for Nvidia's 4-for-1 stock split this year.
Revenue: Wall Street expects revenue of $6.82 billion from Nvidia, according to 35 analysts polled by FactSet. That's up from the $6.57 billion forecast at the beginning of the quarter, and the $4.73 billion Nvidia reported in the year-ago quarter. In its last earnings report, Nvidia forecast $6.66 billion to $6.94 billion. On top of data-center sales, analysts also expect gaming sales of $3.13 billion.
Stock movement: Over the third quarter, Nvidia shares rose 31%, while the PHLX Semiconductor Index declined 2.6% over that period. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 index rose 0.2%, while the Nasdaq Composite Index declined 0.4%. On Nov. 8, the stock closed at an all-time high of $308.04, and has only shed about 3% since then.
Nvidia has topped analyst estimates for earnings consistently over the past five years and has beaten Street revenue estimates for 10 consecutive quarters. While shares gained 4% the day after last quarter's report, stock movement has been mixed over those 10 quarters.
What analysts are saying
Susquehanna Financial analyst Christopher Rolland, who has a positive rating and recently raised his price target to $360 from $250, expects "another beat-and-raise, albeit vs. elevated sentiment entering the print."
While demand for Nvidia's gaming cards are selling about 85% above the suggested retail price in the retail aftermarket, he noted that's down from 130% back in mid-May.
"Enterprise and Government momentum should help the guide, especially as Nvidia's DC GPUs ramp beyond hyperscalers," Rolland said. "As for supply, we continue to note NVIDIA's dual manufacturing strategy (TSMC and Samsung) serves as a distinct advantage in a time of industrywide supply constraints."
Oppenheimer analyst Rick Schafer, who has an outperform rating and a $350 price target, said he was raising estimates ahead of earnings, noting better access to supply, along with data center, AI, and gaming strength.
Read:Nvidia seeks to lead gold rush into the metaverse with new AI tools
"At GTC, Nvidia announced 65 new/updated SDKs, bolstering its software catalog to >150," Schafer said. "The company's leading soup-to-nuts software/hardware platform solidifies its AI accelerator dominance. Nvidia remains the industry leader in high-performance gaming and is ideally positioned for sustained structural growth led by DC/AI."
Cowen analyst Matthew Ramsay, who has an outperform rating and a $220 price target, said he expects "strong sales for the GeForce RTX 30-series cards, and continued notebook unit strength should also bolster segment results as OEMs continue to bring new GeForce-based models to market."
"In the datacenter market, two consecutive quarters of $2B+ revenue validates momentum we see carrying forward not just through C2021 but beyond, as Nvidia remains the thought leader in artificial intelligence," Ramsay said.
Of the 43 analysts who cover Nvidia, 34 have buy ratings, seven have hold ratings, and two have sell ratings, with an average price target of $280.70, about 6% below the stock's current price, according to FactSet.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 17, 2021 11:37 ET (16:37 GMT)
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