Advanced Micro Devices earned a huge “double-upgrade” from analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch this week as they pronounced themselves “better late than sidelined.” They admit missing most of the surge in AMD stock this year, but they still see plenty of room to run, and they’re not alone. The chip maker has risen to prominence quickly this year, attracting attention despite its relative small size compared to Intel and Qualcomm.
AMD stock upgraded to Buy
In a research note dated Dec. 8, analysts Vivek Arya and Adam Gonzalez said they’ve upgraded AMD stock from Underperform to Buy. It’s pretty unusual for analysts to upgrade any stock two notches in one step, so this indicates a particularly high level of conviction. They feel the chip maker is “uniquely” addressing a $50 billion total addressable market, and yet, AMD stock is trading at only two times EV/ S.
In addition to their double-upgrade, that raised their price target for AMD stock from $5 to $12 per share, with a bull case of $15 per share and a bear case of $7 per share. So as you can see, even their bear case is higher than the price objective that had assigned to the stock with their Underperform rating.
AMD is Intel’s only challenger
The BAML team feels that Advanced Micro Devices is the only company that can challenge both Intel (in PCs and servers) and NVIDIA (in gaming, pro-graphics, deep learning). They note that AMD currently holds less than a 5% value share in the markets, and thus, any success would be “highly accretive” to the chip maker’s operating model. Further, the company has been very capable in terms of building semi-custom chips and also monetizing its patent portfolio, thus creating more leverage for growth.
However, they note that most of Wall Street is on the sidelines as only 25% of analysts rate AMD stock as a Buy. They said they missed most of the surge in AMD stock this year because they were more concerned about the chip maker’s weak execution in the past, in addition to its high levels of debt and competition from Intel and NVIDIA. However, their analysis suggests that the markets in which AMD is growing are still in their early stages, and they see the chip maker as starting to regain market share.
They approve of CEO Lisa Su’s turnaround efforts, as she has accomplished much since being appointed only two years ago.
AMD stock is gaining in popularity
BAML isn’t the only firm to come on board with AMD stock this year as the number of bulls appears to be growing. The chip maker’s shares have been on a tremendous tear year to date, roaring roughly 260% higher since January, which makes it one of the year’s best-performing tech names. Despite the huge tear this year, Leo Sun of The Motley Fool expects huge gains next year as well, indicating that BAML’s call isn’t too late.
Sun notes that AMD’s efforts this year have come on the back of strong sales of its semi-custom gaming console chips for the PS4 and Xbox One, which made the Enterprise, Embedded and Semi-Custom segment into its core growth area. Sony’s and Microsoft’s console updates only mean more good things for AMD in the near future.
He also expects VR-ready PCs to fuel further growth at the chip maker as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are enticing consumers to buy expensive PCs that are capable of supporting virtual reality gear. AMD has helped reduce the price of VR-ready PCs from $1,000 to about $600, says Sun, via its RX 480 graphics cards.
He also cited the upcoming launch of the next-generation Vega GPUs, which are expected to offer 12 teraflops of power, beating NVIDIA’s pricey GTX Titan X GPU. Additionally, Sun sees AMD as a challenger for Intel. And finally, he sees the chip maker as being a potential acquisition target.
Shares of AMD stock declined closed at $10.34 on Friday.