Intel faces stiffer competition from 'resurgent' Nvidia, AMD, BofA says

Key Points
  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch reduces its Intel price target to $38 from $42, a 9 percent upside from Tuesday's close.
  • The firm lowers its rating on Intel to neutral from buy, citing the threat from AMD's new data center server chips.
Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel.
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Intel's ability to easily raise chip prices may be ending, as the company faces tougher competition from AMD and Nvidia, a Bank of America Merrill Lynch research analyst said.

The bank lowered its rating on Intel to neutral from buy, predicting the company will lose market share to AMD's latest server chips and Nvidia's artificial intelligence processors.

Analyst Vivek Arya wrote in a note to clients Wednesday that AMD has introduced a set of data center server products with attractive pricing and several large customers, including Microsoft, HP, Lenovo and Baidu. His note was entitled "Resurgent AMD, NVDA could limit INTC's price advantage."

Competition from AMD and Nvidia could curb Intel's ability to expand its average selling price, something that has been a key source of growth, Arya said.

"It's early days and AMD's historical execution has been weak, but we believe increased AMD competition in servers, and share gains by NVDA in AI/accelerators, could limit INTC's expansion of its avg. selling prices (ASP)."

The analyst reduced his Intel price target to $38 from $42. The lower target would be a 9 percent gain from Tuesday's close.

Intel was able to increase its data center sales by an annualized 11 percent in the past five years. However 3 to 4 percentage points of those gains per year came from price increases, he said.

In PCs, Intel's sales growth has been flat over five years as rising average sales prices offset declines in unit sales. "Both these trends are at risk if large PC, cloud and enterprise customers now have AMD as an option," Arya wrote. "Meanwhile NVDA continues to put pressure by shifting more workloads on to its graphics accelerators, and away from INTC's processors."

Intel did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.

— CNBC's Michael Bloom contributed to this story.