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AMD’s stock hits highest price since August as ‘less ugly’ PC market nears pre-COVID normal

After the COVID-19 pandemic drove record sales of personal computers only to lead to oversupply of semiconductors in stacked inventory channels, one analyst expects a return to normal by the end of the year.

In a note Tuesday, Bernstein analyst Stacy Rasgon said that while the PC market was “still ugly” and awash with inventory in the first quarter, it was “less ugly” than the fourth quarter that closed out the worst year on record for the industry. With notebook shipments driving the worst of March-quarter shipments, Rasgon looked at CPU suppliers Intel Corp.

and Advanced Micro Devices Inc.
which both recently reported earnings, for any hints of when the PC market could return to some semblance of normalcy.

“PC shipments, while ‘weak’, seem to be normalizing at pre-COVID levels, thus the historic declines only look bad in comparison to the pandemic dynamics,” Rasgon said.

Rasgon wrote that the 40 million notebook shipments in the March quarter “may have appeared horrendous” when compared with the 60 million shipments in the year-ago quarter, but they were “dead in-line” with pre-COVID first-quarter levels. Most forecasts show a return to a prepandemic trajectory, he said.

AMD shares roared more than 5% Tuesday to settle up 4.2% at $101.48, their highest closing price since Aug. 4, 2022. Intel shares finished down 2% at $29.22. Rasgon has market-perform ratings on both stocks, along with a $30 price target on Intel and an $80 target on AMD. A longtime bear on Intel, Rasgon upgraded the stock back in April, while downgrading AMD in January.

Recently, declining MacBook

sales led the worst drop in notebook and PC sales ever recorded, with shipments at PC makers Lenovo Group Ltd.
Dell Technologies Inc.
HP Inc.

and Asustek

also falling.

Even though Intel reported its largest quarterly loss ever, PC sales came in better than expected, and Chief Executive Pat Gelsinger said Intel was underselling into the market by about 20% to clear inventory. Meanwhile, AMD’s PC sales came in below expectations as the chip maker undersold to clear inventory and the company admitted that gross-margin improvements required recovery in the PC market.

“Given the current trajectory, we believe we may have another quarter or two of channel correction to go, but normalization” by the third or fourth quarter “seems plausible,” Rasgon said.

Recently, the Semiconductor Industry Association reported that global chip sales fell 21% to $119.5 billion from the year-ago quarter, but the trade association noted that month-over-month sales in March increased for the first time since May 2022, offering some “optimism for a rebound in the months ahead.”

Chip makers figured in hedge-fund disclosures late Tuesday, with David Tepper’s Appaloosa establishing a new position on Nvidia Corp.

and Daniel Loeb’s Third Point establishing a position on AMD.

Nvidia is scheduled to report earnings after the close of markets May 24. Meanwhile, chip-making equipment supplier Applied Materials Inc.

reports results on Thursday after the bell.

This story originally appeared on Marketwatch

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