NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) is slated to report its fiscal second-quarter 2019 earnings after the market close on Thursday.

Investor expectations are surely riding high for the graphics processing unit (GPU) specialist, whose business and stock price have been performing wonderfully in recent years. Shares have returned 32.4% this year through Aug. 13, whipping the S&P 500's 6.8% return, and they are just 4.1% off their all-time closing high of $266.91 reached on June 14.

A person's facial profile overlaid on a digital background -- concept for AI.

Image source: Getty Images.

Key numbers

Here are the year-ago period's results and Wall Street's estimates to use as benchmarks. 

Metric

Fiscal Q2 2018 Result

Fiscal Q2 2019 Consensus Estimate

Projected Growth (YOY)

Revenue

$2.23 billion

$3.11 billion

39.5%

Adjusted earnings per share (EPS)

$0.92

$1.66

80.4%

Data sources: NVIDIA and Yahoo! Finance. YOY = year over year.

Wall Street is expecting NVIDIA's earnings to soar more than 80% year over year. Given the company's track record of cruising by expectations, investors can probably count on even stronger growth.

The market is used to NVIDIA crushing estimates, so if it fails to do so and "only" beats them, it's likely the stock will be punished. Long-term investors shouldn't be concerned about such a scenario -- and in fact, they should view it as a buying opportunity. Some quarters are bound to be weaker than others because of particularly tough year-over-year comparables stemming from the timing of new product launches. Moreover, the state of the cryptocurrency market -- which is volatile -- will affect the company's results. Last quarter, NVIDIA's sales of application-specific boards for crypto mining accounted for about 9% of its total sales. And some miners buy the company's gaming GPUs to power their rigs, which means total sales to this market are greater than 9%.

Look for gaming and data center to continue to power growth

Investors should be able to count on more powerful growth from gaming and data center, NVIDIA's two largest and fastest-growing target market platforms. (Professional visualization and automotive are the other target market platforms.) In the first quarter, gaming's revenue jumped 68% year over year to $1.72 billion, accounting for 54% of the company's total revenue of $3.21 billion, while data center's revenue rocketed 71% to $701 million and comprised 22% of total revenue. 

As the market leader in supplying discrete GPUs for the desktop, NVIDIA has been a big beneficiary of favorable trends in the video-game industry. The number of gamers around the world has been growing nicely, thanks largely to the soaring popularity of esports and the battle-royale genre of video games, along with the release of higher-quality games in general. Moreover, these trends have propelled gamers to increasingly buy higher-end graphics cards. NVIDIA's gaming platform is also benefiting from brisk sales of the the Nintendo Switch console, which incorporates a system-on-a-chip from NVIDIA's Tegra line.

As has been the case since the second quarter of last fiscal year, data center's results should be powered by robust sales of products based on the company's Volta GPU architecture. While NVIDIA's Tesla V100 GPUs for data centers began shipping in the second quarter of last year, production didn't fully ramp until later in the year. Volta-based products are optimized for handling the enormous computational requirements of artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) workloads. As for AI, NVIDIA's GPUs have emerged as the platform of choice for training deep-learning networks. 

Don't sweat the auto results 

Last quarter, the auto platform's revenue grew 4% year over year to $145 million, accounting for just 4.5% of the company's total revenue. As they've done for some time, NVIDIA bears jumped on this slow growth as a reflection that something is wrong with the company's driverless vehicle platform.

That is simply not so. There are two core reasons NVIDIA's auto platform's growth is quite modest. First, driverless vehicles are not yet legal across the land, so the market for the company's AI-powered autonomous vehicle platform, DRIVE, is currently limited. Once they do become legal across the U.S. and the world, NVIDIA is well positioned to profit handsomely. More than 370 entities are developing vehicles and systems based on DRIVE PX. Further, NVIDIA has partnerships with top names such as Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi.

The second reason is less obvious and wouldn't be known to folks who don't follow the company closely: NVIDIA's desire to focus intensely on developing products for the burgeoning driverless vehicle market means it has purposely been deemphasizing the auto infotainment center market. So, growth in this market has been slowing, which is affecting the auto platform's overall year-over-year results.

Beth McKenna owns shares of Nvidia. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Nvidia. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.