On Nov. 5, graphics chip specialist NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA) announced impressive financial results, delivering better-than-expected revenue and profit for its fiscal third quarter and guiding to a fiscal fourth quarter that was ahead of analyst consensus at the time. This significant beat was largely driven by better-than-expected sales of its gaming-oriented graphics processors.
Of course, while the numbers in this case spoke for themselves, management offered some interesting insight into the company's business. Here are five points that really stood out to me on the call.
Can NVIDIA rejuvenate its declining Quadro business?
NVIDIA reported seeing sales of its professional graphics chips (Quadro products) decline 8% year-over-year. During the call, analyst Ambrish Srivastava asked management for its thoughts on what might lead to the reversal in this decline which, the analyst noted, has been happening for several quarters.
NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said that the market is "mature," a euphemism for a market/industry that isn't expected to grow by much, if at all, over the long-term. However, Huang was optimistic that NVIDA would be able to take action to "reinvent" the market in order to drive growth over the long-term.
Driving this "reinvention" are two key technologies according to Huang. The first is a technology known as Iray, a NVIDIA-developed rendering engine that can be used with popular professional 3D content creation applications such as 3D Studio Max and Maya.
"I think Iray is going to rejuvenate the way that people do computer graphics," Huang said. "I hope that it will increase the size of the market, make it easier for people to design products, and it will increase our [average selling prices] quite significantly."
Huang is also bullish on virtual reality technology being important in areas such as architectural design, medical imaging, scientific computing, and entertainment, the markets that NVIDIA sells Quadro processors into.
Jen-Husn's view of the competitive dynamics in high end gaming graphics
On the call, analyst Deepon Nag asked Huang about his view of the competitive dynamics in the high-end of the graphics processor market next year, particularly vis-à-vis NVIDIA's longtime rival Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD).
Although Huang made it clear that he respects the capabilities of his competitors, he argues that NVIDIA is fundamentally different from Advanced Micro Devices.
"I think it's also very, very clear that our business and our business model and our strategy is completely different than AMD and the PC graphics chip company we used to be a long time ago," Huang said. "And our company is just on a different trajectory."
Given that NVIDIA's gross profit margins are substantially higher than AMD's and that NVIDIA's revenue in its current fiscal year is expected to exceed AMD's, this is clearly a defensible claim.
Additionally, although Huang made it clear that NVIDIA remains "alert and paranoid" about any and all competitive threats, he argued that NVIDIA's approaches to building products, selling products, and "engaging the ecosystem" are all markedly different from AMD's.
What's going on with virtual reality?
Both NVIDIA and rival Advanced Micro Devices have publicly been very bullish about the opportunity that virtual reality devices present, mainly due to the fact that virtual reality tends to require substantial amounts of graphics horsepower.
Analyst Mark Lipacis noted on the call that NVIDIA's expectations seem to be "fairly low" with respect to the impact that virtual reality applications could have on its business in 2016.
Huang said in no uncertain terms that the company is "over the top excited" about virtual reality and, from a long-term perspective, he thinks that it will be a "powerful growth driver" for the company. However, from a near-term financial perspective, Huang thinks that it's prudent to "wait and see" given that the technology is still so new.
Ashraf Eassa has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Nvidia. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.