Wall Street loves turnaround stories. Over the years, investors in Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) stock have been delighted with the price performance of their shares. I’m going to discuss the short- and long-term outlook of AMD stock, one of the darlings of Wall Street in 2019.
AMD stock is expected to report Q2 earnings on July 24. Year-to-date, the Santa Clara-based chip designer is up about 93%. Long-term, I believe AMD stock price is going to rise much more. However, in the short-term, as AMD stock and its peers get ready to release quarterly results, there could be increased volatility in the markets.
I would encourage long-term investors to wait several weeks before buying AMD stock or hedge their positions if they currently own the stock.
What to Expect From AMD Stock Earnings
When AMD releases earnings in late July, Wall Street will pay attention to two segments:
- Computing and Graphics and
- Enterprise, Embedded and Semi-Custom
On April 30, Advanced Micro Devices reported its Q1 2019 earnings. Its profit of 6 cents per share came in slightly ahead of analysts’ consensus outlook. In its Computing and Graphics segment, AMD’s revenue tumbled 26% year-over-year (YoY) to $831 million. In the Enterprise, Embedded and Semi-Custom segment, its revenue fell 17% YoY to $441 million.
Overall many analysts saw the Q1 earnings report as a sign that AMD is executing its strategic plans well. In the current quarter, AMD management expects its revenue to be about $1.52 billion, a decrease of approximately 13% YoY.
Since late 2014, under the leadership of CEO Lisa Su, revenue has gone up and the company has been improving its balance sheet. Its debt has reduced and investors are hopeful that AMD stock can see positive cash flow soon. Over the next five years, analysts expect AMD to grow earnings by about 30% annually.
As new frontiers in technology, such as the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous driving, and 5G are being developed, I am bullish on the future of Advanced Micro Devices, which has been quite successful in recent years. As a result, I am also upbeat on the long-term outlook of AMD stock.
Yet, recent positive news from Advanced Micro Devices stock’s earnings and its clients have been factored into AMD stock price. Until AMD’s next earnings announcement, its stock is likely to become a battleground between long-term investors and short-term traders.
AMD has a history of reporting mixed results. Therefore Wall Street is likely to be cautious going into earnings.
AMD Stock Is Catching up With Its Main Competitors
Until 2019, Advanced Micro devices has mostly played catch-up with Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC). The market cap for NVDA and INTC stocks are $101 billion and $223 billion respectively. AMD stock’s market cap stands at $37 billion.
Nvidia has dominance in graphics processing units (GPUs) while Intel has been a leader in central processing units (CPUs), the computing engine of most computers and data centers. Graphics processing units accelerate central processing units, boosting the performance of video and graphics and improving computers’ overall performance.
In May, the U.S. Department of Energy announced that AMD and Cray (NASDAQ:CRAY) had been awarded a $600 million contract to develop the ‘Frontier’ supercomputer. Expected to become the world’s fastest computer, Frontier will perform advanced calculations in areas like nuclear and climate research.
The supercomputer will use AMD’s EPYC CPUs, each of which will be connected to four of the company’s Radeon Instinct GPUs. This important deal confirms that AMD is now a recognized industry leader. In other words, AMD has a roadmap to compete with Intel’s dominant CPUs and Nvidia in the graphics-card space.
In Q3 AMD is expected to start selling its 7-nanometer (nm) chips, rivaling Intel’s 10nm, which will not be sold until the end of the year. With these smaller and more power-efficient chips, AMD is aiming to take market share from Intel, especially in data center business.
In short, Advanced Micro Devices has taken important steps to make the fundamental metrics of the company stronger and to catch up with its main competitors.
What Could Derail AMD Stock Short-Term?
Wall Street has recently been debating whether the semiconductor industry, which is highly competitive and cyclical, has entered a prolonged downturn. Could these chip stocks have reached their 2019 highs in the eyes of investors?
For long-term investors, such gyrations in the sector are nothing new. Yet, in the coming weeks when many chip companies announce their earnings one after the other, any potential weak guidance that may be issued could lead investors to become bearish on semiconductor stocks.
Wall Street is nervous that chip companies’ upcoming results will be mixed. Analysts follow AMD’s gross margin levels closely. The company expects its Q2 gross margin to be 41%, the highest in eight years. Therefore, any unexpected dip in the margin could easily push AMD stock price south.
China is the leading consumer of semiconductors (more than 50%). On the other hand, U.S. chip companies lead the world with a combined global market share of nearly 50%. Furthermore, many technology companies either have manufacturing plants in China or use Chinese companies in their supply chains. Therefore, Wall Street fears that U.S. chip makers will be among the largest losers of the current trade war.
Furthermore, analysts are debating whether Advanced Micro Devices stock is becoming overvalued. For example, its forward price-to-earnings-growth (PEG) ratio is about 2x. Similarly, AMD stocks’s price-sales (P/S) ratio of about 6x is also quite high. To put the metric into perspective, the S&P 500’s average price-sales ratio is 2.1.
Should Investors Buy AMD Stock Prior to Earnings?
As a result of the impressive run-up in AMD stock price in 2019, its short-term technical indicators have become quite “overbought.” In June, in addition to the broader market rally, AMD stock got an analyst upgrade that gave a big boost to its price.
If you are an investor who follows technical charts, AMD stock has strong resistance around the $34 level, where the stock is about to make a triple top. Therefore, if it cannot go and stay over $35 soon, some profit-taking is likely to occur.
Because AMD is a momentum leader stock, investors should expect sizable daily swings in the AMD stock price. Technically AMD stock is known to make a series of rallies and consolidations. We can expect this trend to continue in July and August, too.
If you already own Advanced Micro Devices stock, you might want to stay the course and hold onto your position. That said, if you are worried about short-term profit taking, then within the parameters of your portfolio allocation and risk/return profile, you may consider placing a stop loss at about 3%-5% below the current price point, to protect the profits you have already made from AMD stock.
If you are an experienced investor in the options market, you may also consider using an Aug. 16 expiry at-the-money (ATM) covered call strategy. In that case, you may, for example, buy 100 shares of AMD at a limit price of $33 and sell an AMD Aug. 16 $33 call option, which currently trades at $2.4.
The $33 option offers some downside protection in case of volatility and a decline of AMD stock price. It would also enable investors to participate in a potential up move. This call option would stop trading on Aug. 16 and expire on Aug. 17.
I find AMD stock to be a buy candidate, especially as its price declines below $30. In a few years, I’d expect the shares to reach $40.
As of this writing, the author holds INTC covered calls (July 19 expiry).