Nvidia gives lacklustre forecast on inventory, shares plunge

[SAN FRANCISCO] Nvidia Corp, the biggest maker of chips for computer graphics cards, gave a disappointing sales forecast for the current quarter, showing the lingering loss of demand from the collapse of cryptocurrency mining. The stock dropped more than 16 per cent.

Revenue in the fiscal fourth quarter will be US$2.7 billion, plus or minus 2 per cent, the Santa Clara, California-based company said in a statement. That compares to the average of analysts' estimates of US$3.4 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The company's founder and chief executive officer Jensen Huang is trying to make Nvidia more than just the leading provider of technology that makes games more realistic. Yet the gaming market still provides the company with the bulk of its sales.

The mining of cryptocurrency tokens, computer code that carries value in online transactions, had helped stoke demand for graphics chips. Shortages related to a spike in demand from miners led to an oversupply of parts when the crypto market crashed. That inventory needs to be sold before orders for new parts will pick up again, according to analysts.

Mr Huang said that Nvidia expected graphics card sellers would cut prices and that would create enough demand to clear out unused stockpiles. That didn't happen as quickly as thought and so the company stopped shipping mid-range parts to make sure inventory levels fall back to normal levels by the end of the period.

"Aside from the crypto hangover, our core business is doing great," he said in an interview.

Inventory at the end of the quarter was US$1.42 billion, compared with US$1.09 billion three months earlier.

Nvidia reported a profit of US$1.23 billion, or US$1.97 a share, for the third quarter, compared with $838 million for the same period a year earlier.

The company's stock has dropped 30 per cent since its peak a month and a half ago, reflecting concern that earnings weren't keeping pace with the huge gains in the stock. Investors had piled into Nvidia bidding it up from US$12 in 2012 to a closing high of US$289.36 on Oct 1. The shares fell to a low of US$163.64 in extended trading after closing at US$202.39 in New York.

Mr Huang has promised investors that graphics chips will find a more central place in computing. AI (artificial intelligence) in data centres and self-driving cars are just two areas where GPUs will grab sales, he has argued. Sales from gaming rose 13 per cent to US$1.76 billion but declined from the prior quarter. Data centre revenue increased 58 per cent to US$792 million.


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