Bank of America upgrades Intel: It can ride out a chip slowdown and its shares are cheap

Key Points
  • Bank of America upgrades Intel to buy from neutral.
  • It says the chipmaker is well positioned to outperform its large-cap peers in 2019.
  • The bank also raises its 12-month price target for Intel to $60 from $52.
The Intel logo is displayed outside of the Intel headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif.
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

Bank of America upgraded Intel to buy from neutral on Friday, saying the chipmaker will outperform its large-cap peers in 2019.

"Trading at just 10 times price to earnings, Intel is a compelling large-cap investment levered to multiple secular advances — cloud, artificial intelligence, 5G, autonomous cars," BofA analyst Vivek Arya said in a note Friday.

The bank sees a 2.5 percent sales growth in 2019, a deceleration from 13 percent growth in 2018 on tougher data center comparisons. However, Intel's growth rate is better than the bank's core-semiconductors forecast of 1.5 percent, Arya said.

"While the entire semiconductor sector is exposed to a cyclical slowdown, we like Intel's more attractive exposure to more stable PC, enterprise, networking, and data center markets. Global growth slowdown is a risk but product shortages in late 2018 and replacement demand from aging base of PCs helped Intel avoid excess inventory concerns seen by its peers," Arya said.

Bank of America raised its 12-month price target for Intel to $60 a share from $52. From its $44.49 Thursday close, the price target will translate into a 35 percent gain.

Shares of Intel surged more than 6 percent on Friday.