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NVIDIA Earnings: What to Watch on Thursday

By Beth McKenna - Feb 10, 2020 at 9:32AM

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NVIDIA's stock has returned 73% over the last year, so the artificial intelligence player has a lot to prove when it releases Q4 earnings.

Game time is nearing! NVIDIA (NVDA -6.82%) is slated to report its fourth-quarter and full-year results for fiscal 2020 after the market close on Thursday, Feb. 13.

The graphics processing unit (GPU) leader is barreling toward its release on a solid note. While last quarter's results fell on a year-over-year basis, as expected, both the top and bottom lines were up sequentially and beat the Wall Street consensus estimates. Moreover, the profit beat was a sizable one.

Investor optimism is likely the highest it's been for a year. After four consecutive quarters of year-over-year revenue and earnings declines, NVIDIA's top and bottom lines are expected to grow once again.  

The tech company's tough year was due largely to two factors: slowing sales of its gaming graphics cards in the wake of the cryptocurrency bust, and a pause in demand for its data center products amid concerns about a slowing global economy. 

As for NVIDIA stock, it's returned a whopping 73.3% over the one-year period through Friday, Feb. 7, versus the S&P 500 index's 25.5% return. It's now just about 13% off its all-time closing high set in October 2018. 

Outline of a person's head superimposed on a semiconductor.

Image source: Getty Images.

NVIDIA's key quarterly numbers

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

Metric Fiscal Q4 2019 Result Fiscal Q4 2020 Wall Street Estimate Projected Growth (YOY)
Revenue $2.21 billion $2.96 billion 34%
Adjusted earnings per share (EPS) $0.80 $1.66 108%

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

For the fourth quarter, NVIDIA guided for revenue of $2.95 billion and adjusted EPS of $1.65.

For context, in the third quarter, the company's revenue fell 5% year over year to $3.01 billion and adjusted EPS slipped 3% to $1.78. 

Platform performance

Here's how the platforms performed last quarter:

Platform Fiscal Q3 2020 Revenue Change (YOY) Change (QOQ)

Gaming

$1.66 billion (6%) 26%
Data center $726 million (8%) 11%
Professional visualization $324 million 6% 11%
Automotive $162 million (6%) (22%)
OEM and IP $143 million (3%) 29%
Total $3.01 billion (5%) 17%

Data source: NVIDIA. OEM and IP = original equipment manufacturer and intellectual property. QOQ = quarter over quarter.

Investors can expect NVIDIA's gaming and artificial intelligence-driven data center businesses to continue their recoveries from the hits they took a year ago from the previously noted catalysts. (While the auto platform's revenue declined last quarter on both a year-over-year and sequential basis, this was simply due to usual quarter-to-quarter "lumpiness.")

Last quarter, in her CFO commentary, Colette Kress attributed the gaming platform's sequential revenue growth primarily to increased sales of GeForce desktop and notebook GPUs, and the data center platform's sequential growth to higher hyperscale demand.

Mellanox acquisition update

Investors can expect an update in the earnings release or on the earnings call on the status of the company's pending acquisition of Mellanox Technologies (MLNX), which makes data center connectivity products.

The deal -- announced last March -- was originally expected to close by the end of calendar year 2019, but last quarter, the company pushed back the expected timeline to early 2020. At that time, NVIDIA said in its earnings release that it was still in discussions with regulators in Europe and China. Since then, the European Union has given the deal the green light. 

Fiscal first-quarter 2021 guidance

Since the market is a forward-looking machine, NVIDIA stock's price movement should hinge more on the company's Q1 2021 outlook than its Q4 results, relative to Wall Street's expectations.

So, investors should know that analysts are modeling for Q1 adjusted EPS of $1.52 on revenue of $2.85 billion, representing growth of 73% and 28%, respectively, year over year.

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NVIDIA Corporation Stock Quote
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