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Barclays upgraded Nvidia to overweight on Thursday, citing swelling demand for semiconductors over the next several years and conceding to investors that it was behind the times on the company.
"We obviously are late to the party after two substantial years of outperformance but after taking a clean look at the AI landscape, we believe Nvidia is an overweight," analyst Blayne Curtis wrote in a note.
"Once again, ecosystem does matter and we believe that Nvidia has out a large moat around certain markets, like autos, and aims to create a similar ecosystem in robots," he added.
The company's stock is up 117 percent in the past 12 months through Wednesday compared with the S&P 500's 10.3 percent gain. That performance ranks No. 2 in the entire S&P 500. The shares are down 11 percent from its high on March 13.
The stock is up 2.7 percent Thursday.
Curtis also bumped his price target on the stock to $280, implying 23 percent upside over the next 12 months. The stock opened slightly higher on Thursday.
While the need for chips will likely scale over several years as more firms integrate AI platforms, the analyst noted that the company is likely seeing growth in its gaming segments thanks to new massive multiplayer online games in 2018 including Fortnite.
Nvidia is expected to launch new Volta chip-based graphics cards — considered the company's next big step in the video games space — later this year, a release many on Wall Street think could carry profits higher.
"As opposed to last year's lack of gaming launches, 2018 has already brought on titles like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and Fortnite, which are driving a revitalized cycle in gaming communities," Curtis said. "Nvidia is also gaining share, which should be bolstered by the launch of Volta later this year and should have plenty of runway."