For the past several months, shares of chipmaker Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) have struggled due to global growth concerns, trade war headwinds, and semiconductor industry inventory issues. During this stretch, Intel stock fell as much as 25% off 2018 highs.
But, during this downdraft, I’ve repeatedly pounded on the table that Intel stock is a buy due to its upside in AI and data related markets. The market has taken an increasingly favorable outlook on Intel’s AI and data upside over the past several weeks.
Since late October, Intel has rallied nearly 15%. The iShares PHLX Semiconductor ETF (NASDAQ:SOXX) is up less than 5% during that stretch.
Now, it’s time to add another reason to buy Intel stock for the long haul: eSports.
Intel has long had a huge and growing presence in data and AI related markets. But, the company is just starting to make big moves into the burgeoning eSports realm. Specifically, Intel just signed a three year, $100 million deal with eSports company ESL.
The move means that Intel’s chips will power the eSports world’s biggest tournaments over the next three years, and that Intel’s name will be everywhere across the eSports world.
This is a big deal. Not only is Intel gaining exposure to the rapidly growing eSports market, but the company will also significantly grow brand awareness among the all important gaming audience.
This double tailwind, coupled with tailwinds from AI and data related markets, will ultimately push Intel stock way higher in a medium-to-long-term window.
Intel’s eSports Opportunity Is Huge
The writing has been on the wall for some time. eSports is the next big thing in the gaming world. As it turns out, people love to play video games, and people love to watch other people play video games, especially when those other people are really good.
It’s a very similar dynamic to sports. But, unlike sports, video games aren’t constricted by a court or a field. It’s all digital, so players in China can compete with players in America without much friction. It’s a truly global game.
Moreover, the video game audience is arguably bigger than the traditional sports audience. Historically, only about 60% of Americans describe themselves as sports fans. Meanwhile, nearly 70% of Americans are video game players.
From this perspective, assuming similar trends outside the U.S., the global eSports market could one day be as big as the professional basketball, football, and soccer markets. Indeed, it could potentially be as big as all of them combined.
This is why research firm Newzoo, which has accurately predicted eSports revenues over the past several years, projects the eSports market to nearly double from $900 billion this year to $1.7 trillion by 2021. That represents a near 25% compounded annual growth rate over the next three years.
Let’s put this all in context of the Intel deal. Intel is thrusting itself into a market that is projected to grow at a 25% rate for the next several years. More than that, Intel is going to provide the technology that powers most of the big events in this 25% growth market for the next several years.
Even further, Intel is going to have its name everywhere across this 25% growth market, meaning that brand relevance and awareness will skyrocket. Inevitably, that will lead to higher consumer-facing Intel gaming sales somewhere down the line.
Overall, Intel’s $100 million deal with ESL is the start of something potentially huge for Intel in the eSports and tangential gaming markets.
Intel Stock Is Attractively Valued
Let’s consider this. As mentioned earlier, the eSports market is a 25% growth market. The data-center market is projected to grow at a 30% clip over the next several years. AI related spend is expected to grow around 40% per year over the next few years.
When you buy Intel stock, you get exposure to all of those growth markets. You get the 25% growth in eSports, and the 30% growth in data-centers, and the 40% growth in AI. You get all of that big growth exposure for just 10X forward earnings, and you get a 2.5% dividend yield, too.
By comparison, other companies with this robust AI/data/eSports exposure trade at 20X forward earnings and up. Leading eSports company Activision (NASDAQ:ATVI) trades around 20X forward earnings.
In other words, Intel is by far and away the cheapest way to gain exposure to tomorrow’s most important markets. That makes this stock a compelling buy for long term investors.
Bottom Line on INTC Stock
Intel’s $100 million entry into eSports confirms that Intel stock is the cheapest way for investors to gain exposure to tomorrow’s most important secular growth markets. As such, Intel stock is a long term winner from current levels.
As of this writing, Luke Lango was long INTC, ATVI, NVDA, MSFT, and GOOG.
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