Semiconductors could plunge into a bear market by year-end, macro expert forecasts 

Investors could call them chips passing in the night.

While semiconductor stock AMD soars this year, jumping 50 percent in just three months, its peer Micron is badly underperforming.

Micron shares are down around 12 percent in that period, placing the stock on track for its first negative quarter in more than two years.

Amid this divergence, some market participants are betting on even further downside for Micron, and for the chips more broadly. Micron sunk more than 5 percent on Wednesday amid a broader technology sell-off. The stock extended losses from the session prior, after after a filing showed hedge fund Greenlight Capital cut its stake in the chip stock.

"We think it's going to be a messy September for trade talks, so that's the number one warning sign. But then, if you look at the seasonal factors, there are all kinds of red flags," including elevated inventory levels, Larry McDonald, editor of the Bear Traps Report, said Tuesday on CNBC's "Trading Nation."

"We think the SMH [semiconductor ETF] here could be a 20 percent drop by year-end; I think it's a screaming sell. The risk/reward to being short is very, very positive, and the risk/reward to being long, because of the macro factors, is very, very negative."

From a technical perspective, Micron looks primed to keep sliding, according to TradingAnalysis.com founder Todd Gordon. Examining a chart of Micron back to 2007, the gains are easy to see; the stock has gone from $2 a share to north of $60 earlier this year.

"It's been an amazing run, but you can see that by way of a parallel channel, we're approaching an overbought status. Further, if you look at every time Micron interacts with the upper end of the channel, it kind of does this double-top, then backs away. Then a double-top, then backs away. I kind of see that happening right now, again indicating we have some underperformance," Gordon said Tuesday on "Trading Nation."

The stock's performance relative to the semiconductor-tracking SMH, Gordon also noted, never recaptured its dot-com era-level highs.

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Trading Nation is a multimedia financial news program that shows investors and traders how to use the news of the day to their advantage. This is where experts from across the financial world – including macro strategists, technical analysts, stock-pickers, and traders who specialize in options, currencies, and fixed income – come together to find the best ways to capitalize on recent developments in the market. Trading Nation: Where headlines become opportunities.

Michael Santoli

Michael Santoli joined CNBC in October 2015 as a Senior Markets Commentator, based at the network's Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.  Santoli brings his extensive markets expertise to CNBC's Business Day programming, with a regular appearance on CNBC's “Closing Bell (M-F, 3PM-5PM ET).   In addition, he contributes to CNBCand CNBC PRO, writing regular articles and creating original digital videos.

Previously, Santoli was a Senior Columnist at Yahoo Finance, where he wrote analysis and commentary on the stock market, corporate news and the economy. He also appeared on Yahoo Finance video programs, where he offered insights on the most important business stories of the day, and was a regular contributor to CNBC and other networks.

Follow Michael Santoli on Twitter @michaelsantoli

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