Feb 21, 2024 - Business

Nvidia earnings in the spotlight as stock rides AI wave

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Chip giant Nvidia will report fourth-quarter earnings results after the close today.

Why it matters: Nvidia is easily the biggest single story in the stock market over the last year. Its business — once built around chips tailored to gaming consoles — has been transformed by demand from data centers at the heart of the AI boom.

The numbers: Nvidia's sales, profits and market value have all exploded over the last year.

  • In Nvidia's third quarter — which ended in October — profits hit $9.2 billion, up an insane 1,259% from Q3 2022.
  • Sales tripled to $18.1 billion.
  • Over the last year, the company's market value soared by more than $1 trillion, to about $1.7 trillion. That puts Nvidia roughly even with Amazon and Alphabet in terms of capitalization heft, and third behind Microsoft and Apple.

Reality check: As of last Friday, roughly 30% of the S&P 500's gain for the year was attributable to Nvidia, according to Howard Silverblatt, an S&P analyst.

Yes, but: There's no guarantee the stock's ride will continue.

  • It's possible that the already high expectations reflected in the stock price — up more than 200% in the last 12 months — mean almost any result will be a source of disappointment.
  • In fact, the stock stumbled hard Tuesday, dropping 4.4%, its steepest one-day drop since October.

What they're saying: Based on what the big spenders in the world of AI — Microsoft, Meta, Alphabet and Amazon among them — have been saying about their capital expenditure plans, analysts expect big numbers from Nvidia after the close of trading.

  • "Forward-looking commentary on Gen AI-related capital spending was consistently positive across all major U.S.-based hyperscalers," Goldman Sachs analysts said.

What to watch: The key question for the stock appears to be whether sales and profit growth continue at the neck-straining, upward angle that Nvidia has reported over the last couple of quarters. Or, it may begin to show signs of flattening, albeit at a new cruising altitude few could have conceived of a couple of years ago.

  • Traders appear to be ready for fireworks. The Wall Street Journal reports that the options market is pricing in an 11% swing — either an 11% gain or an 11% loss — in the share price after it reports through Friday.

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