Why AMD’s Stock Plunged 20% in Less Than a Week

October 30, 2017, 3:14 PM UTC

Advanced Micro Devices has spent 2017 rolling out its new family of Ryzen chips for desktops and laptops, Epyc chips for servers, and Vega graphics cards. The fruits of several years of crash development under CEO Lisa Su, the new chips were supposed to get AMD back in the game against Intel (INTC) and Nvidia (NVDA) and regain some of its once significant market share that had been frittered away over the past decade.

But with basically all the new products now on the market, AMD’s stock price on Monday sunk as low as $11.07, below where it ended 2016 at $11.34. Monday’s plunge capped a four day, 20% drop since AMD (AMD) reported third quarter earnings on October 24, failing to show the kind of sales growth that Wall Street had expected would be more obvious by now. Over the same period, Intel has gained 9% on the strength of its third quarter earnings while Nvidia, which doesn’t report earnings until November 9, is up 3%.

The problem, at least so far, seems to be slower sales to video game enthusiasts, as the Ryzen desktop chips lagged some of Intel’s fastest silicon for popular games and the Vega graphics architecture was costly to produce, blunting AMD’s ability to compete on price with Nvidia’s graphics cards.

“While Ryzen did meet the performance benchmarks that AMD claimed, making it a solid choice for workstations using highly threaded applications, the single threaded gaming performance has underwhelmed,” Morgan Stanley analyst Joe Moore wrote in a report on Monday downgrading the stock to “underweight” with an $8 price target.

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“Building a chip that outperforms Intel for highly threaded applications on a budget that is a fraction’s of Intel is certainly an impressive engineering achievement, but most high-end consumer purchases are oriented towards gaming, while applications that value higher multicore performance tend to be in corporate markets that are slower to adopt AMD,” Moore explained.

AMD’s third quarter sales grew 26% to $1.6 billion and the company reported net income of $71 million—its first real profits since 2014. AMD did not, however, raise its forecast for fourth quarter sales and profit as much as some investors hoped, igniting the recent sell-off.

Still, one of AMD’s most potent new products, chips for laptops that combine Ryzen and Vega designs, have only just been announced. A few laptop makers have announced they will use the combo chips this year, but the bulk of manufacturers won’t until early 2018.

(Update: This story was updated on October 31 to correct that AMD third quarter sales totaled $1.6 billion.)

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