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NVIDIA's Earnings Crush Expectations and Outlook Shines; Stock Pops

By Beth McKenna - Feb 13, 2020 at 9:05PM

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The AI-driven data center business had a blowout fourth quarter.

NVIDIA (NVDA -2.51%) reported its fiscal fourth-quarter and full-year 2020 results after the market closed on Thursday, Feb. 13. For the quarter, the graphics processing unit (GPU) specialist's revenue soared 41% year over year to $3.11 billion, driven by record revenue in its artificial intelligence (AI)-driven data center platform. Earnings per share adjusted for one-time items rocketed 136% to $1.89.

Both the top and bottom lines were also up sequentially from the third quarter, and both breezed by Wall Street consensus estimates, with the earnings beat particularly sizable. Analysts were looking for adjusted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.66 on revenue of $2.96 billion.  

Notably -- and as widely expected -- the quarter ended NVIDIA's four-consecutive-quarter string of revenue and earnings declines on a year-over-year basis.

Shares immediately rose more than 6% in after-hours trading on Thursday and traded up within the 5% to 6.5% range during most of the session. We can attribute the market's delight to the quarter's better-than-anticipated revenue and earnings results, as well as first-quarter guidance for both the top and bottom lines coming in stronger than Wall Street had expected. 

In 2020, NVIDIA shares have raced out of the gate, gaining 15.1% through Thursday's regular trading session, compared with the S&P 500's 4.7% return. Given the stock's robust performance after hours on Thursday, investors can probably expect the tech stock to add to that year-to-date tally on Friday.  

Man using a cell phone that's sitting on a flat surface and has an image of a connected brain with AI on it hovering above.

Image source: Getty Images.

NVIDIA's key numbers


Fiscal Q4 2020

Fiscal Q4 2019



$3.11 billion

$2.21 billion


GAAP operating income

$990 million $294 million 237%

GAAP net income

$950 million  $567 million 68%


$1.53 $0.92 66%

Adjusted EPS

$1.89 $0.80 136%

Data source: NVIDIA. GAAP = generally accepted accounting principles.

NVIDIA had guided for fourth-quarter adjusted EPS of $1.65 on revenue of $2.95 billion. So its results surpassed its outlook, as well as Wall Street's estimates.  

Quarterly results also continued their sequential rebound, with revenue and adjusted EPS up 3% and 6%, respectively, from the third quarter. 

GAAP gross margin came in at 64.9%, up considerably from 54.7% in the year-ago quarter and also higher than last quarter's 63.6%. Adjusted gross margin was 65.4%, up from 56% in the year-ago period and also better than the third-quarter's 64.1%.

For full-year fiscal 2020, revenue fell 7% year over year to $10.92 billion, GAAP EPS dropped 32% to $4.52, and adjusted EPS declined 13% to $5.79.

Platform performance


Fiscal Q4 2020 Revenue

Change (YOY)

Change (QOQ)


 $1.49 billion

56% (10%)

Data center

 $968 million 

43% 33%

Professional visualization

 $331 million




 $163 million



OEM and IP*

 $152 million

31% 6%


 $3.11 billion



Data source: NVIDIA. *OEM and IP = original equipment manufacturer and intellectual property; not a target market platform. YOY = year over year. QOQ = quarter over quarter.

Strength in AI-driven data center and gaming platforms led year-over-year results

NVIDIA's year-over-year revenue growth was driven by the powerful performances of its data center and gaming businesses, though professional visualization also contributed to growth. The sequential growth was entirely driven by the data center platform, which had a phenomenal quarter, posting record quarterly (and annual) revenue. Professional visualization's quarterly revenue was also a record.

In her CFO commentary, Colette Kress had this to say about the Q4 growth drivers for the company's three largest businesses: 

The year-on-year increase [in gaming] reflects higher sales of GeForce GPUs and SoCs [systems on a chip] for gaming platforms. ... [Professional visualization's] year-on-year growth reflects strength in desktop and notebook workstations... [Data center's] year-on-year increase was driven by hyperscale and vertical industry end customers.

On the earnings call, CEO Jensen Huang attributed the data center's amazing performance to the rapid adoption of AI for an increasing number of applications, calling out natural language processing and internet recommender systems several times.

Mellanox acquisition update

NVIDIA said in its earnings release that it's still in discussions with China's regulatory agency, the State Administration for Market Regulation, regarding its pending acquisition of Mellanox, a supplier of interconnect solutions for servers and storage. The company originally expected this all-cash $6.9 billion deal to close by the end of calendar year 2019, but last quarter, it pushed back that date to early 2020. It still "believes the acquisition will likely close in the early part of calendar 2020."

Q1 guidance is robust, though reduced due to the coronavirus

NVIDIA turned in a terrific quarter.

For the first quarter of fiscal 2021, management guided for revenue of $3 billion. This represents growth of about 35% year over year. The company reduced its revenue outlook by $100 million to account for the potential effect of the coronavirus, adding that the "ultimate effect of the coronavirus is difficult to estimate." 

Wall Street had been modeling for Q1 revenue of $2.85 billion, so the company's outlook came in stronger than expected.

NVIDIA also guided (albeit indirectly, by providing a bunch of inputs) for adjusted EPS of $1.61, according to my calculations. This represents growth of 83% year over year. Analysts had been anticipating adjusted EPS of $1.52, so the company's profit guidance also surprised to the upside.

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