Why Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Is Getting Clobbered After Earnings

Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ: AMD  ) reported fourth quarter revenues and EPS of $1.59 billion and $0.06, in-line with consensus of $1.54 billion and $0.06. Gross margin decreased 1 percentage point from 3Q even though there was a $7 million one-time benefit from the sale of inventory previously reserved.

The graphics business was the high point of the quarter with revenue increasing 165% year over year, thanks in large part to sales of semi-custom chips. This generated an operating profit of $121 million, good and enough to offset the lagging computing solutions business but not enough to generate earnings upside as the company struggles to solidify its turnaround.

The computing solutions division's revenue decreased 13% year over year despite an increase in the average selling price for microprocessors, indicating a dismal market for chipsets and notebooks. This conflicts with Intel's  (NASDAQ: INTC  ) commentary about seeing the bottom of the PC market and led to a segment operating loss of $7 million, down from a $22 million profit in the third quarter.

This is not a bad quarter from a numbers perspective but as an investor, one has to wonder what's next. If the company can only generate $0.06 of earnings in a quarter when both Microsoft and Sony launched next generation platforms, what levers can the management pull when favorable market winds are no longer behind the company?  Unless something drastic changes, this may be as good as it gets.

Two key issues arose in the question and answer session on the earnings call: 1) management guiding cash balances lower and 2) the CEO running away from a question about an additional leg down for the gross margins.  The first issue is bad.  A lower cash balance is never a good thing, especially in a capital intensive industry.  Suggesting that it would be lower in the first quarter would not have been good but stating that it is in the company's best interest to "target cash levels in the $1 billion range" which implies $200 million down from current levels is downright bad.  Sadly, the second issue is even worse.  By leaving the door open to more margin erosion, professional investors will take a wait and see attitude.

Despite printing decent quarterly results, a look behind the numbers makes AMD a wait and see company.  Until there are indications that revenue can grow after the console cycle and margins will stabilize, its likely that this stock will remain in the penalty box.

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  • Report this Comment On January 22, 2014, at 10:20 AM, bluesky64 wrote:

    AMD guidance YOY 1st qrt. growth 21% from 1q 2013 $ 1.088 billion to $ 1.35 billion for 1st quarter 2014

    with break even. or slight profits.

    or down 16% from q4 2013 $ 1.59 billion to guidance of $ 1.35 billion for 1Q 2014

    with break even or slight profit

  • Report this Comment On January 22, 2014, at 11:36 AM, TEBuddy wrote:

    Hey genius, did you realize they have a $200M one time charge to close out their settlement with GloFo to break X86 exclusivity at 28nm, so they could go to TSMC? And if you didn't realize this, the CEO has been saying they target having about $1B in cash every quarter for the last year. They call it their buffer for having an entire years operating costs in reserve.

    And hello, console chips are low margin. AMD has high margin products coming out in 2014, including the Kaveri APU that just released for desktops. They are launching an entirely new class of server mid-year with interest from Google and Facebook, and HP is interested in the APU server chips as well coming out this year. Console sales will continue at current levels through 2014.

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David Eller

I started contributing to the Motley Fool in 2013. I have held research positions at two investment banks and two hedge funds before trying more entrepreneurial ventures. I'm passionate about helping people find freedom in financial independence. Feel free to add comments and start a discussion. I hope to use these articles as forums to learn from you as well as share my opinion.

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