AMD stock has been one of the hottest tech stocks this year and perhaps the most surprising when it comes to gains. Advanced Micro Devices shares have skyrocketed by more than 250% year to date and show little sign of slowing down. Historically, analysts have had problems with the chip maker’s weak execution, but it seems that more of them are beginning to accept that things are changing as AMD stock has seen a growing pile of analyst upgrades.
Never recommend AMD stock?
Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts bumped up their rating for AMD stock by two notches from Underperform to Buy in a research note last week, and this time, it’s BMO Capital Markets’ turn to hand out an upgrade. In a research note dated Dec. 11, BMO analyst Ambrish Srivastava upgraded AMD stock from Market Perform to Outperform, saying that he used to think that he would never recommend it because the chip maker had disappointed for years and made many missteps. Along with the upgrade, the analyst more than doubled his price target for AMD stock, raising it from $6 to $15 per share.
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Srivastava said the chip maker’s new CEO has made its execution consistent, although he noted that it still has quite a way to go before it can build “real institutional support” among investors. Also Advanced Micro Devices must grow its customers’ confidence in it. He believes that the chip maker’s CEO will be able to get it onto a much-needed path of consistence so that it can tap into opportunities in large markets where it has thus far been mostly irrelevant.
He notes that AMD has been trading at a more than 50% discount to its peer group in terms of EV/ sales. As a result, despite the tear the company’s stock has been on this year, he still sees lots of room to grow. He also believes that the company finally has the potential and product portfolio to return meaningful earnings.
Still not recommending AMD stock
Not all analysts have changed their view of AMD yet. In a research note dated Dec. 12, UBS analyst Stephen Chin reiterated his Sell rating and $5.50 per share price target on AMD stock. He noted that the chip maker did unveil its new strategy in the area of machine learning and believes that it has made some “solid progress” narrowing the gap with competitors. He also believes the new strategy will enable the company to benefit from the demand for artificial intelligence chips in 2017.
Chin does view AMD’s plans in a positive light but is waiting to see if it will be able to execute its strategy successfully. The chip maker based its new Radeon Instinct accelerators on several previous GPU platform generations. The new MIOpen GPU-accelerated software library should also speed up the performance of the company’s algorithm, he added, and it’s open source.
Overall, the UBS analyst feels that the company’s product portfolio has improved with the addition of the new products over the last year. However, he wants to see whether the chip maker will be able to compete with NVIDIA’s and Intel’s chips. Also he wonders whether AMD will be able to beat the one to three year time to market advantage that its rivals enjoy in software and framework adoption. And finally, he wants to see the chip maker “execute flawlessly to win mind share at cloud operators.”
Shares of AMD stock closed down 1.31% at $10.54 on Tuesday.