It’s been a roller-coaster 2017 for Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMD). The AMD stock price has bounced around for most of the year, and has pulled back 29% from multi-year highs touched back in March.
Of late, it does seem like skeptical investors are controlling the narrative. AMD’s Q3 earnings beat consensus – but investors sold off AMD stock anyway. Concerns about the short-term benefit of cryptocurrency mining are mounting, with a Mizuho analyst on Tuesday highlighting the risk to AMD in 2018 and beyond.
I’ve argued for a few months now that I expect AMD to stay stuck without a big mover – and I still think that’s the case. Even with the recent pullback, the AMD stock price hardly looks cheap at 32x 2018 EPS estimates and 15x the company’s target EPS for 2020.
The broad question for AMD here is: what’s next? The company’s turnaround has been impressive and so have the gains in its stock. But to keep moving higher, AMD needs to take share from larger rivals. Trading over the past six months suggests the market doesn’t believe that’s going to happen.
Is AMD Going to Take Market Share Going Forward?
I wrote earlier this month that AMD stock lacks a story at the moment.
The narrative in 2016 and early this year was clear: AMD’s new products, including the impressive Ryzen line, were making the company a legitimate competitor to larger rivals Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) and Nvidia Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA).
That narrative is playing out. Through the first nine months, AMD revenue has risen more than 21%. That includes whopping 51% growth in the Computing and Graphics segment. Gross margins have improved nicely, even on a non-GAAP basis, and Adjusted EBITDA has better than doubled.
But again: what’s next? The YTD growth has come largely from Ryzen in PCs, the Vega GPU line, and Epyc datacenter chips. Come 2018, AMD is going to have to lap those launches, one key reason why analysts see top-line growth decelerating to 12% next year.
AMD’s innovation isn’t over, but it’s made a big leap in the past 6-7 quarters, and progress will be tougher going forward.
Meanwhile, neither Intel nor Nvidia is standing still. Intel is trying to protect its dominance in datacenter, and Q3 earnings showed some success on that front.
Nvidia datacenter revenue more than doubled in its Q3, and has risen nearly 150% so far this year. And 25% growth in Nvidia’s gaming chips off a much, much larger base than that of AMD suggests that Vega isn’t making much of a dent in terms of market share.
At the current valuation, AMD still needs to win more of these battles. And while it’s made progress, it’s still a distant second in most of its key markets. The reported AMD-Intel partnership might help in PCs, but that’s likely to be a flat market at best going forward.
AMD needs to win in the growth markets. But investors aren’t acting as if that’s going to be the case.
The AMD Stock Price Drops While Chip Stocks Rise
Year-to-date, AMD stock now has dropped almost 2%. Meanwhile, NVDA has nearly doubled. Long-stagnant INTC has woken up, gaining 23%, with most of those gains coming in just the past few weeks.
Elsewhere in the space, Micron Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:MU) has risen 119% in 2017, and even struggling Qualcomm, Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOM) has gotten a big bounce after a buyout offer from Broadcom Ltd (NASDAQ:AVGO).
It’s meaningful that the stock is dropping at the same time overall optimism toward the chip space appears to be at or near its highest levels in a decade. And it should be a concern as well.
If AMD struggles while the sector soars (and money flows into chip ETFs that own AMD stock), what happens when sentiment changes?
The divergence also means that investors in NVDA and INTC, in particular, are discounting the risk of competition from a resurgent AMD. Obviously, it’s possible those investors are wrong. But the fact remains that a rebound in AMD requires market share gains above and beyond those achieved so far this year.
The market at the moment doesn’t think those gains are coming, and that should worry AMD shareholders.
As of this writing, Vince Martin has no positions in any securities mentioned.