If you’ve been paying attention to used car prices, you might have noticed that the sector has been on a yo-yo since the novel coronavirus upended our lives. During last year’s spring doldrums, many anticipated a recessionary slump hurting the secondhand car market. This year, though, prices have soared — and semiconductor stocks are potential key beneficiaries.
True, circumstances surrounding the global health crisis are uncertain. Right now, the mainstream media is focused on the delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which has seen a worrying rise in cases. While there’s always the possibility that the infection rate could burn out as with previous waves, you just never know with Covid-19. What we do know is that we’ve got to move forward. Unfortunately for those looking to purchase used cars, that can’t happen without the underlying commodities driving semiconductor stocks.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest contributors to the computer chip crisis is the industry’s supply drain. During the onset of the pandemic, chip-using businesses cut their orders to avoid holding inventory they couldn’t move. For instance, Harvard Business Review noted that “automakers cut their orders of all parts and materials — including the chips needed for functions ranging from touchscreen displays to collision-avoidance systems,” initially hurting prospects for semiconductor stocks.
Then “when demand for passenger vehicles rebounded, chip manufacturers were already committed to supplying their big customers in consumer electronics and IT,” Basically, automakers saw the writing on the wall and adjusted their inventory inflows — expect that the negative implications never arrived. Now, automotive firms are on the backfoot while used car prices and semiconductor stocks are jumping from unprecedented demand.
But when will this all end? Experts suggest that at the earliest, about nine or ten months from now. Others believe that we could suffer supply constraint into 2023. If so, waiting for those used car prices to drop may take longer than you think.
In the meantime, you might be better served putting your money to work with these semiconductor stocks to buy.
- Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA)
- Marvell Technology (NASDAQ:MRVL)
- Analog Devices (NASDAQ:ADI)
- Cohu (NASDAQ:COHU)
- Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (NYSE:TSM)
- ASML (NASDAQ:ASML)
- NXP Semiconductors (NASDAQ:NXPI)
Finally, do note that even if supply-demand pressures ease, it may not mean a catastrophic drop for semiconductor stocks. Remember, it’s going to take some time to fill the backlog across the entire supply-chain ecosystem. To continue the used car analogy, it’s not as if boatloads of cars are going to appear just because chipmakers are able to start feeding demand normally.
Semiconductor Stocks to Buy: Nvidia (NVDA)
If you firmly believe that the computer chip crisis will last for the better part of two years, then you might want to look into Nvidia. One of the powerhouse names among semiconductor stocks, there isn’t a technology-based industry that Nvidia isn’t somehow involved in.
For example, Nvidia is a household name among video gamers for its powerful graphics processing units (GPUs). Given the spike in gaming during the Covid-fueled lockdowns — which levered a positive societal impact, according to a scientific report — NVDA stock enjoyed a substantial catalyst. The company’s GPUs are also a fan favorite among cryptocurrency miners.
Obviously, cryptos have been soaring over the trailing year, bolstering the case for mining-centric semiconductor stocks.
But Nvidia is also a contributor to the electric vehicle rollout. According to a recent Scientific American article, that’s going to be a problem because EVs are heavily dependent on computer chips. Moreover, the delay places huge burdens on President Biden’s clean energy ambitions.
However this plays out, for now and for the foreseeable future, NVDA is a golden name among semiconductor stocks.
Marvell Technology (MRVL)
Specializing in data infrastructure innovations, Marvell Technology is incredibly relevant for enterprise-level digitalization needs, such as cloud computing and data centers. Further, Marvell’s financial performance reflects management’s strategic outlook.
Recently, the tech firm posted a solid beat for its second quarter results, posting adjusted earnings per share of 34 cents on revenue of nearly $1.08 billion. Covering analysts expected Marvell to deliver EPS of 31 cents on sales of nearly $1.07 billion. Against the prior-year comparison, earnings soared 62% while sales jumped 48%.
As CEO Matt Murphy stated, “Growth was driven by the data center, which now represents Marvell’s largest end market at 40% of total revenue, benefiting from our growing momentum in the fast-growing cloud infrastructure market.”
Curiously, MRVL stock sold off following the disclosure, with some analysts opining that expectations were set too high for Marvell. Nevertheless, this could be an opportunity to get a discount on one of the more relevant semiconductor stocks.
No matter how you break it down, data centers will play a pivotal role in commerce. Further, another Covid-related disruption will make this sector even more highly demanded.
Analog Devices (ADI)
Despite its somewhat ironic name, Analog Devices is very much relevant to the digitalization needs of the modern business ecosystem. Specializing in data conversion, signal processing and power management technologies, Analog Devices core customers are found in the industrial, communications and healthcare segments.
Recently, Analog made another big splash as China’s regulatory agency approved its acquisition of Maxim Integrated Products (NASDAQ:MXIM). According to Investor’s Business Daily, “Every company that has significant exposure to the Chinese market — the world’s biggest for chips — must get approval from Chinese regulators when they merge with or acquire another company. The U.S., European Union and other markets have similar requirements.”
The approval is particularly important for the times that we’re living in. “San Jose, Calif.-based Maxim is strong in chips for the automotive and data center markets,” which bodes very well for ADI stock. As Scientific American pointed out, a series of production setbacks at pivotal chipmaking facilities have exacerbated the semiconductor supply problem, especially for the automotive industry.
Should the crisis impacting semiconductor stocks continue unabated, ADI could cynically stand to benefit.
With the massive impact of the coronavirus pandemic combined with the ebb and flow of uncertainty regarding when the chip shortage will fade, it pays for investors to take a wider view of semiconductor stocks to buy. This might be the tide to lift all boats, at least according to Rosenblatt Securities, which is bullish on Cohu
While not a household name like Nvidia, Cohu is nevertheless a critical part of the global semiconductor infrastructure. Focusing on testing and handing equipment to serve the world’s biggest chipmakers, the company has enjoyed an incredibly robust demand profile. Add to the fact that the automotive segment was Cohu’s largest during Q2 — accounting for 18% of total sales — and you have a compelling outlook.
Rosenblatt analyst Scott Graham recently reiterated a “buy” rating on COHU stock, setting a price target of $57. At the close of the August 27 session, COHU was priced at $35.27, meaning that prospective buyers may enjoy a nearly 62% upside if the bullish thesis pans out.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSM)
About a month-and-a-half-ago, Japan’s “Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso said that ‘if a major problem occurred in Taiwan’, his country would ‘need to consider seriously’ that the neighbouring Japanese island of Okinawa ‘could be next’ in Beijing’s list of targets.” Labeling a hypothetical scenario where China invades Taiwan as an “existential threat,” Tokyo announced that it would join the U.S. in defending the small island nation.
While the prime minister was discussing Japan’s interests, CNBC issued a report noting “how much the world depends on Taiwan for semiconductors.” While it’s a scary thought that Taiwan is in the middle of a geopolitical firestorm, this broader narrative certainly bodes well for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing.
For one thing, the company dominates the foundry market or the outsourcing of semiconductor manufacturing. Indeed, it’s the world’s largest foundry, serving household tech powerhouses like Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) and Nvidia.
Second, its supremacy in the foundry field means that it really doesn’t have any competitors. While that poses geopolitical vulnerabilities due to the China threat, at the same time, Taiwan itself is an international partner no nation can afford to lose.
While I’m not the biggest fan of buying semiconductor stocks — or any equity class — into strength, I might have to make an exception for ASML. Based in Veldhoven, Netherlands, ASML provides hardware, software and services to allow their enterprise-level clients to mass produce patterns on silicon, thereby facilitating groundbreaking innovations.
Further, investment management firm Polen Capital is a huge fan. In its Q2 investor letter, the organization wrote dotingly about ASML’s forward prospects:
Dutch technology company ASML is the world’s only supplier of photolithography systems to leading-edge semiconductor manufacturers. It is a gross simplification and a valid point to note that ASML’s technology enables the computing technology we use today. For years, ASML engineers bent the laws of physics and enabled Moore’s Law—which states that computer chips will become faster and cost less—to progress.
Incremental innovation gains mushroomed with the rollout of Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) technology. We were impressed by management’s recent acknowledgment that demand for ASML’s lithography systems is exceeding their prior expectations. Recent announcements by management and major customers for ASML give us even more confidence in the sustainability of growth. We believe ASML could grow its earnings at a high-teens rate over the coming five years.
Given how ASML stock has gained nearly 120% over the trailing year, it’s hard to argue against the optimism.
NXP Semiconductors (NXPI)
Specializing in mixed-signal chips for the mobile and industrial industries, along with Internet of Things applications, NXP Semiconductors has always been a relevant force among semiconductor stocks. But its true focus has been on the automotive market and this of course is where the narrative for NXPI stock goes truly bonkers.
On a year-to-date basis, NXP Semiconductors shares are up 40%, while over the trailing year, they’re up an incredibly robust 78%. But what’s really intriguing is that NXPI has seriously strong momentum over recent trades. For instance, between the July 28 and Aug. 27 session, the equity unit has popped up over 14%.
In my opinion, if you’re waiting for a good deal on a used car, you should prepare yourself to wait longer than you thought.
According to Michelle Krebs, an analyst with the car dealer conglomerate Cox Automotive, a projection for when the chip supply in the auto sector will improve is painfully ambiguous.
“The situation is very fluid,” the analyst said. “We thought it would be easing by now, and it seems to be just as bad and possibly worsening over the next few months. We’re trying to figure out when does it bottom out, and I just don’t have the answer for that.”
Again, bad news for car buyers but great news if you’re thinking about gambling on NXPI stock.
On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
A former senior business analyst for Sony Electronics, Josh Enomoto has helped broker major contracts with Fortune Global 500 companies. Over the past several years, he has delivered unique, critical insights for the investment markets, as well as various other industries including legal, construction management, and healthcare.