Nvidia shares surge 11 percent as GPU chip demand skyrockets

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(Reuters) – Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O) reported a better-than-expected 34 percent jump in quarterly revenue on Thursday, underpinned by strong demand for its graphics chips used in data centers, gaming devices and in cryptocurrency mining.

The company’s shares rose 11 percent to a high of $241 in extended trading. They have surged about 83 percent in the past 12 months.

Revenue from Nvidia’s widely watched data center business, which counts Amazon.com Inc’s (AMZN.O) Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Corp’s (MSFT.O) Azure cloud business among its customers, more than doubled to $606 million.

That trounced analysts’ average estimate of $541.1 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Nvidia, which has seen explosive growth in its data center operations, received a boost after the launch of Volta chips in May as part of its new Tesla GPU that will power systems from artificial intelligence to driverless cars.

“Virtually every internet and cloud service provider has embraced our Volta GPUs,” Nvidia’s Chief Executive Officer Jensen Huang said in a statement. (bit.ly/2iJPeNN)

Nvidia’s revenue from gaming, for which it is best known, rose 29 percent to $1.74 billion, accounting for a more than half of its total revenue in the fourth quarter, beating analysts’ estimate of $1.59 billion.

Nvidia and rival AMD (AMD.O) are also benefiting from the recent boom in cryptocurrencies as their GPUs provide the high computing ability required for cryptocurrency “mining.”

The price of Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency, rose more than 1,300 percent in 2017. Bitcoin, however, has dropped about 40 percent this year.

Net income rose to $1.12 billion, or $1.78 per share, in the fourth quarter ended Jan. 28 from $655 million, or 99 cents per share, a year earlier.

Results include a $133 million gain related to the new U.S. tax law.

Total revenue rose to $2.91 billion from $2.17 billion.

Excluding items, Nvidia earned $1.72 per share.

Analysts on average were expecting a profit of $1.17 per share and revenue of $2.69 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Reporting by Arjun Panchadar and Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Anil D’Silva