Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) stock has seen a nice bump since August. Shares have popped from a low of $148.77 on Aug. 15 to $180.24 at the close Sept. 17. With positive developments in the U.S.-China trade war and improving fundamentals for the GPU space, Nvidia’s fortunes may be turning around.
But is there enough left in the tank to send NVDA stock higher? Based on valuation, it seems most catalysts are priced in the stock. Nevertheless, NVDA sells at a discount to GPU rival Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD).
So what’s the verdict? Let’s take a closer look at Nvidia stock, and see why now may not be the time to buy.
Key Developments Driving the Nvidia Stock Price
Weak GPU demand and the U.S.-China trade war. These two factors hammered Nvidia stock. But a turnaround in chip sales and optimism over a trade deal have mitigated these concerns. Improved investor sentiment is driving NVDA stock higher. The question is: Will it last?
With regards to GPU demand, Nvidia’s sales results for the past quarter show promise. For the quarter ending July 30, revenue rose from $2.2 billion to $2.6 billion quarter-over-quarter. Gaming sales rose 24% from the prior quarter, from $1.1 billion to $1.3 billion. But sales remain down year-over-year. Overall sales were $3.1 billion in the prior year’s quarter, including gaming sales of $1.8 billion. Nvidia has a long ways to go before reaching the high water mark set in the prior year.
How about the U.S.-China trade war? Investors are optimistic, but corporate America remains bearish. The unpredictability of the trade war could continue to impact Nvidia’s business. It could also impact an upcoming acquisition. As InvestorPlace’s Tom Taulli wrote on Sept. 12, China could block Nvidia’s proposed acquisition of Mellanox (NASDAQ:MLNX). The Mellanox deal is seen as a positive catalyst for NVDA. The deal would bolster Nvidia’s data center business, and help it diversify away from GPUs.
But what about artificial intelligence? The rise of AI could be Nvidia’s saving grace. On Sept. 13, InvestorPlace’s Jamie Johnson pointed out how Nvidia’s automotive AI business saw sales grow 30% in the past quarter. AI has yet to reach critical mass, but in the next decade could emerge as a major industry. This would give Nvidia stock a clear pathway to growth.
However, as seen below, this growth potential is clearly reflected in the valuation of NVDA stock. Does this mean shares are overvalued? Let’s see how Nvidia’s valuation compares to peers.
NVDA Stock Remains Overvalued
Despite declining sales since 2018, Nvidia stock remains richly priced. The company’s forward price-to-earnings ratio is 25.5. Nvidia’s enterprise value/EBITDA is 40. But shares continue to trade at a discount to rival AMD. AMD stock trades at 28.3 times forward earnings, and has an EV/EBITDA ratio of 67.
Does this mean Nvidia stock is undervalued? Possibly, but it could indicate AMD remains overvalued. Both stocks trade at premiums to broad-line chip makers like Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and Broadcom (NASDAQ:AVGO). Intel’s forward P/E is 11.6, and its EV/EBITDA ratio is 7.6. Broadcom trades at a forward P/E of 12.4, and a EV/EBITDA ratio of 14.3.
As I have stated before, I do not understand the high premium assigned to GPU makers relative to broad-line chip makers. As seen from the global GPU glut, substantial sales growth is uncertain. Long term, I can easily see both NVDA and AMD trade at valuations similar to INTC and AVGO. Maybe not as cheap as Intel stock, but certainly at similar EV/EBITDA ratios as Broadcom.
It’s Tough To Predict Nvidia Stock’s Future
All bets are off with Nvidia stock. While the company has seen improvements in its overall business, sales remain down from the prior year. There’s light at the end of the tunnel for the trade war, but uncertainty remains. Nvidia next announces results in November. The analyst community sees quarterly sales at around $2.9 billion. China could give their blessing to the Mellanox deal. If so, the deal could close at the end of 2019.
So what’s the play with Nvidia stock? I have been on the sidelines since July, and shares have traded sideways since. If the company can reach the high water mark set last year, shares should see material improvement. But until then, sideways trading between $150-$200 per share is likely. Continue to stay on the sidelines with Nvidia stock.
As of this writing, Thomas Niel did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities