Wall Street still loves Nvidia despite chipmaker’s prediction of plunging cryptomining sales

Key Points
  • Analysts are confident over Nvidia's gaming and artificial intelligence businesses even as its cryptocurrency mining chip sales will likely drop.
  • "With crypto now de-risked, in our view, and the new product launch in Gaming ahead of us, we see positive risk-reward and would thus recommend investors to Buy the stock," Goldman Sachs says in a note.
Jen-Hsun Huang, president and chief executive officer of Nvidia Corp., speaks during an event at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Analysts are optimistic over Nvidia's growth opportunities even as a key market falters.

The chipmaker reported better-than-expected fiscal first-quarter earnings and guidance Thursday. But the company said on the earnings conference call its second-quarter cryptocurrency-mining chip sales will likely fall by two-thirds quarter over quarter.

Nvidia's stock price fell 2.2 percent Friday.

Goldman Sachs reiterated its buy rating for Nvidia's stock, saying its weak digital currency business guidance is a positive and the bad news is now out there.

"Crypto is expected to decline significantly in [the second quarter]. … Management is guiding crypto revenue down 66% [quarter-over-quarter] based on feedback it has received from its enterprise-scale mining customers and conservatism given recent ETH weakness, in our view," analyst Toshiya Hari wrote in a note to clients Friday. "With crypto now de-risked, in our view, and the new product launch in Gaming ahead of us, we see positive risk-reward and would thus recommend investors to Buy the stock."

The analyst raised his price target for Nvidia to $310 from $275, representing 19 percent upside to Thursday's close.

Cryptocurrency miners use graphics cards based on AMD's and Nvidia's chips to "mine" new coins, which can then be sold or held for future appreciation. In April, China-based Bitmain announced its specialized digital currency mining system for ethereum, which analysts predict could hurt demand for graphics cards.

The price of ethereum is down roughly 8 percent this year through Friday morning, according to Coinbase. The cryptocurrency is still up more than 600 percent over the past 12 months.

One Wall Street analyst told his clients to focus on Nvidia's leadership in the artificial intelligence market.

"NVDA's leadership in AI remains the most critical component of stock sentiment/valuation," Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Vivek Arya said Thursday in a note entitled "Best-in-class Growth + Pipeline, ignore segment noise." "NVDA remains the unrivaled leader in AI training, and is now gaining traction in the emerging inference TAM (5-10% of data center sales) as evidenced by the QoQ doubling in inference shipments to cloud customers in Q1."

Vivek raised his price target for Nvidia shares to $340 from $300 and reiterated his buy rating for the company.

J.P. Morgan is bullish on Nvidia's gaming business, citing the recent launch of new popular games.

"We believe Gaming demand remains strong in the current quarter on continued blockbuster gaming titles/e-sports strength," analyst Harlan Sur said in a note to clients Friday. "Demand continues to remain strong for NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 1080Ti product and a strong line-up of flagship games that have recently been launched (e.g., Fortnite, PUBG, Far Cry 5, etc.), coupled with NVIDIA successfully replenishing the channel after supply tightness."

Nvidia shares are up 34 percent so far this year through Thursday versus the S&P 500's 2 percent return.

— CNBC's Michael Bloom contributed to this story.