As Yogi Berra (along with several others) is credited with saying, "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future." Problem is, that's exactly what investors in semiconductor specialist Nvidia (NVDA 0.83%) are being called upon to do as they gauge the likely duration of the global semiconductor shortage.
They have to do it, but it's hard. Case in point: Shares of Nvidia had dropped 3.7% through 9:50 a.m. EDT today based on what should be good news for the stock.
Predictions on where the semiconductor market is heading have been piling up fast and furious these past few days and weeks.
As recently as August, Bloomberg was reporting that the lag time between a customer (such as Nvidia) placing a chip order with a contract manufacturer (such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company and getting delivery had reached its longest in history: 20.2 weeks.
But a month earlier, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger had predicted that shortages would bottom out in the second half of 2021, but that it would still take "one to two years before the industry is able to completely catch up with demand."
But that timeline has been shrinking ever since. In September, market researcher International Data Corporation agreed with Gelsinger that shortages will be easing by the end of this year, and "the industry will see normalization and balance by the middle of 2022, with a potential for overcapacity in 2023."
Tesla CEO Elon Musk soon agreed that the shortage looked "short term" to him, with good capacity for providing chips by 2022. And Advanced Micro Devices CEO Lisa Su seemed to agree that the shortage might end sometime between Q2 and Q4 2022.
On the other hand, chipmaking equipment supplier ASML Holding said last week that it foresees boom times for semiconductor manufacturing growth running perhaps all the way through 2030!
And this week, CNBC reported that Marvell Technology CEO Matt Murphy thinks the chip shortages will continue throughout 2022. As for AMD's belief that production increases might solve the problem early, Marvell thinks "that's not going to kick in until 2023 and 2024."
So that leaves us with a lingering dearth of supply all the way into 2024. In other words, another two to three years of boom times for Nvidia and its chip profits. So why is today's apparently good news for Nvidia still causing a decline in its stock? I can only guess that at at this point, investors feel like I do: They have no idea whom to believe!