(Bloomberg) -- Nvidia Corp.’s banner year — which saw the shares more than triple in value amid a frenzy for artificial intelligence — is unlikely to be repeated.
That’s the message from the chipmaker’s last two earnings reports, which saw the shares barely budge even as profit and sales forecasts raced past sky-high expectations. And while Wall Street is still overwhelmingly positive on the stock, analysts only see 36% upside over the next 12 months — a nice return, but significantly less than in 2023.
The stock’s sluggishness in the second half is a reflection of the extremely bullish expectations that were priced in during the initial craze for AI-related stocks. But now, some are cautioning that Nvidia’s current growth trajectory isn’t sustainable over the long term, especially in an industry notorious for its boom-to-bust cycles.
“With exceptionally strong demand, significant market share, and no real alternatives for its products, we believe the company is experiencing peak demand,” wrote Edward Jones analyst Logan Purk, who downgraded Nvidia to the equivalent of neutral last week. “This will make it more challenging for the company to continually outpace expectations and drive the stock meaningfully higher.”
Shares rose 0.9% on Wednesday.
Part of the issue is that expectations are so high. For the year ending in early 2025, Wall Street now estimates adjusted earnings per share of about $20, more than double what analysts were forecasting just six months ago.
Those rising estimates have brought Nvidia’s valuation down from the nosebleed 50 times earnings ratio that the stock traded at in the summer. That’s good news for anyone holding the stock, and perhaps an entry point for anyone who missed the torrid rally.
But it may be hard to find anyone who doesn’t already own Nvidia — presenting another hurdle for further share-price gains. An analysis by Morgan Stanley of the top 100 actively managed institutional portfolios in the third quarter showed the average portfolio concentration of Nvidia was about 2.3%, well above its historical average of 0.7%.
“Everyone loves the stock, so more or less everyone already owns it or overweights it, and that means it will be tough to find the next incremental buyer,” said Tim Ghriskey, senior portfolio strategist at Ingalls & Snyder, which owns the stock. “Shares should continue to move higher over the long term, but the days of popping 20% on very strong results are over.”
To be sure, a new catalyst could change everything. But at the moment, it’s hard to see what that could be. The company is updating its H100 processor and is frequently forging or deepening partnerships with other tech companies — most recently Amazon.com Inc.
But neither product updates or partnerships seem likely to give the shares a big boost, and several risks are looming on the horizon. Revenue could take a hit from US curbs on exports to China, though Nvidia is reported to be making new chips for that market that won’t run afoul of the restrictions. Competition is expected to ramp up from rivals including Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and customers like Microsoft Corp., while there’s also a risk of blowback against the proliferation of AI as it becomes more mainstream.
“What else can Nvidia do except announce they have a cure for cancer?” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA. “It’s understandable if those who came late are feeling frustrated that the party seems to be winding down.”
Tech Chart of the Day
Recent gains for major internet and technology stocks has led to a decline in volatility associated with the Nasdaq 100. The CBOE NDX Volatility Index has dropped 36% from an October peak, and it recently closed at its lowest since January 2020. The gauge is well below its five-year average level. The tech-heavy benchmark is up 46% in 2023.
Top Tech Stories
- Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which has been trying to jettison its struggling credit card business, now has a potential way out of its partnership with Apple Inc.
- The rules for political and social issue advertising on Facebook and Instagram during the 2024 presidential race will look a lot like past election cycles, parent company Meta Platforms Inc. told US officials on Tuesday.
- Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. provided a revenue outlook in the current quarter that was just shy of expectations, after reporting a steeper decline in server sales than analysts expected.
- Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger has no regrets about returning to lead the company last year despite facing “myriad challenges.”
- Jack Ma urged Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. to correct course in a surprise internal memo, in which the billionaire called for fundamental change across the company he co-founded decades ago.
Earnings Due Tuesday
- Pure Storage
- Credo Technology
--With assistance from Subrat Patnaik and Dawn McCarty.
(Updates to market open.)
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.