The Showdown of the Chipmakers: AMD vs. Nvidia

A rising tide could lift both boats, but which is better?

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Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) has been king of the graphics chip world for some time, but Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) isn’t sleeping. Both companies have made noteworthy announcements of late — thanks in part to the fact that it’s conference season in the tech and gaming worlds — and both stocks have posted big gains of late.

Nvidia, for one, introduced its first unified computing platform, capable of supporting artificial intelligence, called HGX-2. As Tom’s Hardware reported, Nvidia’s CEO Jensen Huang said at the Computerex conference that “two new dynamics are changing the market: slower CPU performance increases, and the rise of Deep Learning and Artificial Intelligence. In the future, software will write software.”

AMD, on the other hand, showed off its first 7nm GPU at Computerex, on top of the second-generation of its Threadripper processor. “Our upcoming 7nm and 12nm products build on the momentum of our Ryzen, Radeon and Epyc processors, positioning AMD to lead the next generation of high-performance computing in markets from premium devices and gaming to machine learning and the data center,” CEO Lisa Su said in a press release.

Over the last 12 months, Nvidia stock has gained 74% while AMD shares have gained 42% — both far better than the average for the broader market and other tech stocks. On the one hand, a rising tide could lift both boats. The gaming space, for one, is growing. In turn, the GPU market is expected to boast a compound annual growth rate of 36% through 2022.

But if you had to pick one, it’s tough to not go with the dominant player in this case. Recent GPU reviews comparing their gadgets head-to-head tend to lean towards the incumbent. PC Gamer prefers the company’s 1070 Ti if you’re looking to “balance performance, price, and features.” The AMD Vega chip hasn’t lived up to its hype, the review said.

Along the same lines, lower-end AMD graphic cards tend to outperform lower-end Nvidia graphic cards, according to Digital Trends, but Nvidia takes the cake overall. A survey from April, it also points out, showed that over 75% of graphics cards in use are Nvidia.

Bottom Line

From a stock perspective, too, AMD stock may be a bit overdone. AMD stock sports a trailing price-earnings (P/E) ratio of 107 and a forward P/E of 27, yet is slated for more or less non-existent five-year growth. As James Brumley pointed out, AMD is at a multi-year high for short interest. Nearly a quarter of AMD stock is sold short. The most recent rally, he said, might be the result of those investors covering their bearish positions.

Nvidia is more of stalwart stock. In the wake of the approved Time Warner takeover, the company is joining the S&P 100 this week. CNBC recently cited the company as one with a healthy balance sheet that investor might bet on despite rising interest rates. And while the company sports a slightly higher forward P/E than AMD, it’s also slated for slightly higher growth: 14% earnings growth each year for the next five, and sales growth of 50% and then 30% for next year and the year after.

As of this writing, Robert Martin did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

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