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Nvidia Warns of Chip Delays, Slower Mobile Growth

Wednesday, 15 February 2012 07:07 PM

Nvidia Corp. warned that delays in ramping up new manufacturing technology and a struggling PC industry are impacting its business; the chipmaker also scaled back its outlook for growth in its smartphone and tablet business.

Anxious to move beyond its traditional business of designing graphics chips for PCs, Nvidia has jumped into mobile devices and late last year unveiled its new Tegra 3 processor.

On a conference call with analysts following Nvidia's fourth-quarter report on Wednesday, Chief Executive Officer Jen-Hsun Huang said a hard drive shortage caused by flooding of factories in Thailand last year would keep the PC industry from growing this year, but that Nvidia would gain some market share.

As well, Huang said short supplies of cutting-edge 28-nanometer semiconductors as its contract manufacturer TSMC adapts to the new technology were also hurting sales of Nvidia's PC graphics chips, or GPUs.

"New generations of smartphones, new generations of GPUs are going to drive the demand for 28-nanometer capacity. ... And so I think you're going it find that this year is going to continue to be tight," he said.

Huang stepped back from his previous goal of reaching $1 billion in sales of Tegra mobile chips in 2012. He said revenue from Tegra last year was $360 million and that he expects to grow it at last 50 percent this year.

"The vast majority of that will be based on Tegra 3. (Average selling prices) of Tegra 3 are higher than Tegra 2, and our expectation is that it would stay that way through the year," he said.

With competitors Texas Instruments and Qualcomm turning up the heat with their own new mobile processors, investors have been waiting to see if the Tegra 3 chip finds its way into a top-selling device.

"The bottom line is the stock has moved a lot on anticipation of Tegra growth and they haven't seen it yet, and they're certainly not guiding on it," said Evercore Partners analyst Patrick Wang.

Nvidia had some successes early in 2011 with its Tegra 2 chips appearing in tablets made by Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, although sales have grown less quickly than many investors had expected.

Nvidia's Consumer Products group's sales, which includes the Tegra chips, fell 42 percent sequentially to $110 million in the quarter. That was due to a drop-off of Tegra 2 sales ahead of the launch of devices using Tegra 3 chips, Nvidia said.

Sales at its consumer GPU group and its Professional Solutions group, which includes graphics chips used in workstations, each dipped 4 percent sequentially in the fourth quarter, hurt by the hard drive shortage.

Nvidia said revenue in its fiscal first quarter would be between $900 million and $930 million compared with analysts' average forecast of $944.63 million.

Nvidia also guided for an April-quarter gross margin forecast of 49.5 percent, plus or minus 1 percentage point, less than the 52.1 percent expected by analysts.

The company's shares were down 4.2 percent in extended trading after closing down 0.4 percent at $16.17 on Wednesday.

Nvidia said it had fourth-quarter net income of $116 million, or 19 cents per share, compared with $172 million, or 29 cents a share, a year ago. Analysts expected 19 cents per share.

Nvidia said revenue for the quarter that ended Jan. 29 was $953 million, up from $886 million a year ago and slightly higher than analysts' average estimate of $950 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

© 2018 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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Wednesday, 15 February 2012 07:07 PM
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