Why AMD’s Stock Jumped 14%

The multi-year turnaround at chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices has been a bumpy affair from an investor point of view. CEO Lisa Su committed the company to focus on catching up to and even leapfrogging the performance of chips from rivals Intel (INTC) and Nvidia (NVDA) but it takes years to actually get that silicon out to customers.

On Wednesday, the rewards of Su’s AMD journey appeared a little clearer. Reporting after the market closed, AMD said revenue shot up 53% to $1.8 billion in the second quarter. Adjusted profit per share of 14 cents reversed a loss of 1 cent a share last year and was the highest in seven years. Investors rewarded Su by sending the company’s shares up 14% on Thursday to as much as $18.45, the highest price since the beginning of 2007. The stock was less than $2 a share as recently as February 2016.

The improvements came even as demand from digital currency miners for AMD’s graphics chips fell off, reassuring jittery analysts who had warned the second quarter might be troublesome. Sales of AMD’s new Epyc chip for servers and a second generation Ryzen chip for PCs introduced in April more than made up for some challenges in selling Vega graphics chips, which had been a hot commodity for cryptocurrency seekers until currency prices tumbled this year.

Su spent part of her call with analysts explaining that the upcoming chips coming at the end of this year and into 2019 would be even more competitive, as they move to a smaller scale 7-nanometer manufacturing process.

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“Several years ago, we made important decisions around our CPU and GPU roadmaps to drive leadership at the 7-nanometer node,” the CEO noted. “We now have line of sight to those products coming to market and we see incredible opportunities ahead based on the competitive positioning and customer interest in our upcoming 7-nanometer products.”

Several analysts heartily agreed. “We believe AMD may be at its best competitive position ever,” Angelo Zino, an analyst at CFRA Research, wrote in a report raising his price target on the stock to $20 from $16. Zino said he was “highly optimistic” about Epyc’s potential to grab marketshare in big data centers.

Mizuho analyst Vijay Rakesh also raised his target price to $20 from $17 and said he expects to see AMD (AMD) grabbing double-digit market share in servers by next year from almost nothing a year ago.

Still, there remain some doubters on Wall Street. Barclays analyst Blayne Curtis is sticking with $9 price target for AMD, saying he saw “no hard data points on customers or orders” for the Epyc chip. “The rubber is still not meeting the road,” he wrote.

And Stacy Rasgon at Bernstein Research rather grudgingly raised his price target to an already-exceeded $16. Rasgon wrote that he was “unconvinced” that the risk had passed from falling sales to cryptocurrency miners.

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