NVIDIA Just Won't Stay Dead

Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD  ) is doing its darndest to kill off graphics rival NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA  ) . But like any decent brain-munching zombie, NVIDIA is showing no signs of staying down.

In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010, NVIDIA more than doubled its sales year over year, to $983 million, while last year's $0.27 GAAP loss per share turned into $0.23 of earnings per share. CEO Jen-Hsun Huang continued to point out that manufacturing issues at chipmaking outfits like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (NYSE: TSM  ) are constraining NVIDIA's product output; the company is selling its chips faster than TSMC can make 'em.

Those constraints will remain over the next couple of quarters, so the usual seasonality patterns will not really apply to NVIDIA this year. Instead of falling in the first quarter, Huang believes that sales will stay roughly flat until the manufacturing problems have been sorted out.

If and when that happens, NVIDIA has a fresh technology platform ready to roll. The Fermi architecture will form the basis of everything from GeForce graphics cards to NVIDIA’s high-performance Tesla processors. In the mobile world, the company aims to grow with its Tegra application processors, introducing higher performance along with more power-efficient operation. The Tegra is of particular interest now that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) broke the ice on the tablet market, and I expect a tsunami of competing products from the likes of Dell (Nasdaq: DELL  ) , Sony, and Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) . Some of those will run on NVIDIA's Tegra platform rather than competing chips from Samsung, Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN  ) , and others.

Tegra should stand out as a graphics powerhouse in that company, perfect for running media tablets of all shapes and sizes. Huang claims to have "multiple" design wins around Tegra with the first retail products shipping in the second quarter.

Recent reports show AMD stealing some market share from NVIDIA in the graphics market, but there seems to be plenty of pent-up demand for what NVIDIA has to offer. The stock has doubled over the last year, even after today's 7% drop, but still has a long way to go before eclipsing the mid-$30s last seen in 2007.

NVIDIA is far from dead, and actually looks ready to attack in earnest. How high can the undead climb? Discuss in the comments below.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in AMD and TSMC, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. He can't wait to see Natalie Portman battling the undead in Regency England in the movie version of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. Nokia is a Motley Fool Inside Value choice. Apple and NVIDIA are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like. When there's no more room on Wall Street, the Fool's disclosure policy will walk the earth.


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  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2010, at 5:31 PM, tonyd14 wrote:

    Your article didn't address the 19% inventory build up.

  • Report this Comment On February 19, 2010, at 3:55 AM, TEBuddy wrote:

    Ummm, what kind of basis for an article is this? Nvidias market cap is almost twice that of AMD's. AMD's price has more than tripled in the same time. The points made in this article are unimportant. AMD is not trying to kill Nvidia, they are just competitors. Nvidia wont see $30 ever again.

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