Shares of Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) gained 23% in October, according to data from S&P Capital IQ. The designer of PC processors, graphics chips, and embedded semiconductors beat the market by a wide margin -- and also left arch rival Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) far behind.
So what: AMD entered October on a positive note, having recently announced a radical restructuring plan that was well-received by investors and analysts. That alone was enough to keep AMD trading significantly above Intel and major market indices.
Then, the company reported third quarter results in the middle of October. AMD missed Wall Street earnings targets, thanks to a large inventory writedown and set a low guidance bar for fourth quarter revenuee -- the stock slumped the next day.
But the disappointing report was quickly forgotten as independent research reports started painting the PC market in a brighter light, and AMD took off once again.
Now what: AMD bulls including Northland Capital Markets believe share prices could more than double within a year as the company rebuilds itself as a technology licensing center in search of big-ticker partner opportunities.
Sadly, that's a high-risk strategy. It's not difficult to find semiconductor experts with a more muted view of AMD's business prospects, but it's hard to beat the succinct overview provided by Bernstein analyst, Stacy Rasgon:
The fate of the company depends on the success of [the next-generation Zen1 processor], and at this point the strategy as we see it (succeed in the high end against Intel, while outsourcing all manufacturing and process technology, slashing investments, and dealing with key tech executive departures at a critical moment) does not necessarily fill us with confidence.
The company is raising cash wherever it can in order to survive until that game-changing chip is ready to, well, change the game. Meanwhile, Intel is crushing what's left of the ragged PC industry, and mobile challengers are still assailing that very stronghold from all sides.
AMD shares will bounce up and down while this battle for survival plays out, and October happened to be a moment of upswing for the company. But the end game still looks brutal, and I'm afraid the company doesn't have much gas left in the tank.
Write this month off as a fluke. It certainly wasn't the fanfare to begin a long-term victory march.