Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) has had a truly dreadful October. Just one month ago, NVDA stock reached a new record high of $293/share. This week, it fell as low as $180/share. That’s a more than $100 decline per share in a single month, creating a 35% loss. That’s a massive move for a large-cap stock like Nvidia.
Naturally, investors who love to buy stocks on dips are salivating at the prospect of buying NVDA stock at lower levels. This sort of major correction might seem like a good buying opportunity. If buyers thought Nvidia stock was worth nearly $300 last month, surely it’s a steal after it fell under $200, right? Not so fast.
Tech And Semiconductor Stocks Flame Out
The first problem for NVDA stock is that the company doesn’t operate in a vacuum. Nvidia stock is not the only name that has tumbled. Across Nvidia’s industry, many companies are reporting weak earnings, causing huge selloffs. Just recently, we’ve seen big earnings disappointments from Texas Instruments (NASDAQ:TXN), STMicroelectronics (NYSE:STM) and most importantly, AMD (NASDAQ:AMD). The VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF (NYSEARCA:SMH) has declined as much as 20% from its September high.
Tech stocks in general are also having a bad run. We’re seeing investors rotate out of growth stocks into more defensive sectors such as consumer staples and utilities. That is the sort of action you see when investors start to worry about an economic slowdown. The recent weak earnings out of the FAANG names have only accelerated this trend. Needless to say, a name like NVDA stock will not fare well in an environment in which people are trying to reduce their market risk.
Did AMD Provide a Warning?
Of all the chip makers, AMD’s disappointing results are most relevant to NVDA. That’s in large part because both companies have relied on the ramp-up in sales of graphic cards to drive near-term profits. Like Nvidia, AMD’s long-term outlook has appealed to investors who believe that the quality of its chips has surpassed those of Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC). In the short-term, however, both companies were relying on boosts from the crypto-mining craze.
Sadly, crypto mining has dried up as Bitcoin prices have fallen 65% from their peak and other digital currencies like Ethereum have collapsed even farther. AMD’s revenue from graphics cards sank 9% in Q3 versus Q2, even though the company launched new graphics cards last quarter. Meanwhile, the company’s blockchain revenues almost entirely disappeared, after making up close to 10% of AMD’s revenues last year. Additionally, the diminishing demand for graphics cards for use in crypto-currency mining will lower the prices of all graphics cards, including those sold to avid video game players.
While we don’t know how much of Nvidia’s crypto revenue has been eliminated, it will probably drop by a large amount. In theory, NVDA could be sheltered somewhat from the impact of the crypto collapse, as it did not make its crypto cards capable of outputting graphics, thus preventing them from being used for video games. But its top line will likely be somewhat negatively affected by the crypto-currency collapse.
Nvidia Stock Is Still Expensive
At the end of the day, even after losing a third of its value, NVDA stock is still expensive. On a fundamental basis, it’s hard to look at the current price as any sort of great bargain. Analysts across the Street have price targets ranging from under $200 to as high as $400, showing the inherent difficulty of valuing a name like Nvidia stock which has a high level of risk.
What we do know, however, is concerning. For the past year, the company’s free cash flow generation has dropped. Moreover, its revenue fell last quarter compared with the previous one. That trend probably won’t continue, since NVDA is still growing. But this isn’t 2017 anymore; the earnings boom appears to be ending.
So with Nvidia stock trading at 25 times its earnings, it’s hard to get excited about the name. The price-earnings multiples of other high-growth semi stocks that also have a presence in sexy verticals are well under 20 again. And the multiples of more beaten- up semiconductor stocks such as NXP Semiconductor (NASDAQ:NXPI) are under nine. But Nvidia stock still has a premium valuation, meaning it will have to deliver compelling results to justify its current share price.
There’s also the matter of capital allocation. NVDA stock has never paid much of a dividend. Instead, the company has been buying back its stock. NVDA generated just over $2 billion of net income last year, and it’s on pace to spend $1 billion on share buybacks this year. And despite spending $600 million over the first six months of the year on buybacks, it bought back less than 1.5% of its outstanding stock. Simply put, buybacks hardly move the needle of expensive stocks. The 0.3% dividend yield isn’t doing much for shareholders either.
NVDA Stock Should Be Sold on Bounces
Nvidia stock could bounce sharply here in the short-term. The stock is certainly oversold on a technical basis, having given back all of its 2018 gains in a single month. As a result, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Nvidia stock recover somewhat. And in fact, NVDA stock rallied 17 points, or more than 9% on Tuesday.
That came, in part, due to JPMorgan upgrading NVDA stock, even while it trimmed its price target on the shares from $265 to $255. That said, these sorts of rallies provide opportunities to lighten up on positions at better prices. Tech stocks are in real trouble here. NVDA, one of the more aggressively priced tech names that has a minimal dividend to backstop the share price, is vulnerable to a big decline on any earnings weakness.
NVDA stock traded at $30 as recently as 2016 and was at $100 in early 2017. It may feel too late to sell Nvidia stock after the drop from $300 to $200, but in reality, NVDA could drop much further going forward.
At the time of this writing, Ian Bezek owned TXN, INTC, and NXPI stock. You can reach him on Twitter at @irbezek.
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