What happened

Here we go again.

News of a new coronavirus variant in South Africa sent stock markets reeling on Friday, with the Nasdaq Composite off 2% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 2.7% as of noon ET. And despite more than one positive news item today, Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) stock is joining in the sell-off, losing 3.4%.

So what

That's a crying shame. After all, this morning saw a new upgrade for Nvidia shares from First Shanghai bank, which raised its recommendation on the stock to buy and set a new $380 price target that's a good 21% above where the stock trades today.  

Short circuit on a semiconductor chip.

Image source: Getty Images.

Separately, analysts at Bank of America reiterated their own buy rating on Nvidia stock, predicting that semiconductor "supply could remain constrained through the 1H 2022 as demand continues to be robust and supply continues to be unable to keep up," as StreetInsider.com reported this morning. With pricing power firmly on Nvidia's side, BofA nearly doubled its projection for graphics chip revenue in the first half of 2022, saying it could grow 9% year over year.

Now what

None of that seems to matter to investors spooked by the coronavirus news, however. With analysts worrying aloud that the new B.1.1.529 variant -- and its reported more than 30 mutations -- could pierce the protection provided by vaccinations, investors are running scared.  

Is that the right reaction? It might be. But if I might be so bold, investors might also want to pause before hitting the panic button and wait to see if scientists confirm that these mutations actually do make COVID-19 easier to transmit or enable it to cause more serious infections -- or if they don't really do anything worse than the delta variant is already doing.

A more serious worry about Nvidia stock today, on the other hand, is the revelation that Apple might be designing a new augmented reality system that will run on its own chips designed in-house. According to The Fly, TFI Asset Management just said Apple will design a processor "with the same computing power level as the M1 for Mac" chip  to use in its headset, due out late next year.

When you consider that a lot of the enthusiasm surrounding Nvidia stock lately has centered on the company's desire to sell technology to help other companies build a metaverse, the prospect that Apple might design chips that can run a metaverse without help from Nvidia seems a scarier prospect to me than anything with the word "coronavirus" in it.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.