Nvidia share price rises due to strong sales forecast

Nvidia Corp. predicted stronger fiscal 2020 sales than analysts had estimated, raising optimism the company can quickly return to growth when it clears a buildup of unused gaming chips. The stock rallied 6 percent in extended trading.

Revenue will be flat to down slightly in the fiscal year, the company said Thursday in a statement. Analysts, on average, estimated a 7 percent drop. The chipmaker also forecast a 20 percent decline in the current quarter, suggesting Nvidia sees a big boost in sales coming later in the year.

Chief Executive Officer Jensen Huang is trying to convince investors that the stall in the company’s revenue is a short-lived trend and that the broader use of graphics chips in everything from cars to data centers will restore growth that has doubled the size of his company since 2016. The company is the biggest maker of processors for computer graphics cards.

“The first quarter marks the bottom for our gaming business and we look forward to moving forward,” Huang said in an interview. “There’s every evidence the market is moving along.”

Earlier, Nvidia shares rose 1.1 percent to close at $154.53 in New York. The stock has gained 16 percent this year.

Nvidia’s run of consecutive revenue gains, stretching back to 2014, was broken in the reported quarter when sales of chips to cryptocurrency miners crashed as the digital-coin market plunged. The resulting excess inventory has been compounded by weaker demand from consumers and from operators of data centers, who had been increasingly using the chips for artificial intelligence computing.

Chief Financial Officer Colette Kress estimated that “normalized” revenue for gaming chips is about $1.4 billion per quarter. Underlining the distortion caused by gyrating cryptocurrency miner demand, sales declined 45 percent to $945 million in the period ended Jan. 27. The company cut shipments while its customers tried to sell their unused stockpiles. In each of the prior four quarters, Nvidia reported revenue for the gaming unit at more than $1.7 billion.

Data center revenue, a relatively new business that has driven rapid growth for the company, gained 12 percent from a year earlier, but declined 14 percent from the prior quarter. That reflects widespread caution at cloud service providers, the company said. Executives said they can’t predict when orders from those customers will pick up.

For the fiscal first quarter, Nvidia projected sales of $2.2 billion, plus or minus 2 percent. That compares with an average analyst estimate of $2.29 billion. Gross margin, or the percentage of sales remaining after deducting costs of production, will be 59 percent, the Santa Clara, California-based company said. Analysts projected 59 percent.

Nvidia last month warned that it hadn’t met its targets for the fiscal fourth quarter, citing weaker gamer demand and slower orders from data center operators. It predicted revenue of about $2.2 billion in the period, down from a previous forecast of about $2.7 billion. On Thursday, the company reported that sales fell 24 percent to $2.205 billion, the first quarterly decline since 2014.

Net income was $567 million, or 92 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with $1.1 billion, or $1.78 a share in the same period a year earlier.

Now read: Nvidia to launch GeForce GTX 1660 Ti with 3GB of VRAM

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Nvidia share price rises due to strong sales forecast