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AMD Now A-OK?

Saturday, 15 Nov 2008 | 12:04 AM ET
AMD: Comback Kid?
A view on Advanced Micro Devices, with Mad Money host Jim Cramer.

Cramer's prediction yesterday that tech hasn't seen bottom yet and was due for more beating came true today, with most big tech names ending lower. One of the most beaten-down of these companies was AMD . Still, even with the dismal tech sector in the dismal overall market, there's still money to be made IF you're willing to speculate on battered stocks like -- you got it -- AMD. But "battered" doesn't even do this company justice: it's down 67% for the year and had another bloody session today.

Having been so vocal against this stock for so long, Cramer dropped a big bomb today: "You can now start building a position in, yes, it's true, AMD, but leave some room to buy in December when AMD could be even lower." WHAT? Yes, you heard right! Cramer says it's time to start thinking about building a position in -- AMD!

In case you've been in a cave for the last ten years, AMD competes with Intel in the CPU market, where it makes 78% of its sales. As gamers and other hardcore computer users know, AMD also makes graphics chips that puts the pretty pictures on your monitor. This is 17% of its sales business, but it has a tough competitor in NVIDIA (although analysts recently gave AMD a nod in their ongoing battle for market share). The final 5% of its sales are miscellaneous other processor chips, such as for game consoles and smart phones.

How did AMD end up with its unenviable single-digit stock price? "It worked hard." A series of bad decisions starting in 2006 led this once up-and-coming stock to its almost down-and-out current placement. Its CPU market share was once 25% and looked likely to keep growing. But several bad business decisions and poor product lines later, its share is now 19%, it hasn't been in the red since 2005 and 78% of its capital is "a huge debt burden ... that keeps dragging the company down."



Okay, so with all this bad juju, why should you start building AMD now? "Because the company is finally focusing on profitability instead of market share" by spinning off its chip manufacturing operation: AMD has sold 55% of its "cash draining" chip manufacturing business to an Abu Dhabi firm for $700M, while also selling 58M of its own shares and 30M warrants to an Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund for $300M.

This new chip making business will assume $1.2B of current AMD debt. AMD's remaining 44% in chip manufacturing will stay on the books, while it gains about a billion in cash and dropping $1.2B debt. Cramer notes an additional bonus: AMD's Chairman and "incompetent former CEO, ex-wall of shamer" Hector Ruiz will go to the new manufacturing company, which, by the way, Cramer advises selling should you get any shares.

The spinoff -- which should be a done deal early 2009 -- puts off talks of bankruptcy and sets up a leaner AMD to "become profitable by the end of its fiscal 2009." Along with aditional cost-cutting measures, it may reach its needed $1.5B breakeven revenue level. Also, points out Cramer, the company has maintained its Q4 guidance and, at such a low price, "any good news could move the stock higher."

Bottom Line: "If AMD can't get it together, I don't see the stock falling much below $2.20, which was AMD's cash per share before the Abu Dhabi deal -- so this stock fits my criteria of trading at or near cash -- so the speculative juices might not run dry. You have to give this speculative stock until April at least, the end of its fiscal 2009, when it says it will become profitable -- if it doesn't recover by then, you should throw in the towel."



Questions for Cramer? madmoney@cnbc.com

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