Bernstein’s Stacy Rasgon
today presses the negative case on Intel (INTC), reiterating an Underperform rating, and a $30 price target, writing that despite the stock being cheap, and despite what seems a “conservative” outlook from the company, nevertheless he sees several things that “sound a siren, audible at least to those who might be listening."
Among those risks are perhaps the first signs Advanced Micro Devices
(AMD) may be having an impact on Intel, in the form of falling prices
Rasgon goes back too the company’sJuly 27th Q2 report, when the company surprised the Street with its quarterly results and outlook, and also raised expectations for this year for the second time in a row, with personal computer chip sales a standout of the report.
"We suppose there is some modest positive spin that can (and likely was) placed on the results,” he writes, "namely, numbers admittedly did go up, some believe conservatism is baked into forward outlook, and at least optically the shares appear cheap."
But, Rasgon’s finds multiple concerns in the report. One, he believes the company faces challenges for the second half of this year by “over-shipping” the personal computer
market: "By the company's own admission, Intel's notebook MPU shipments rose 14% YoY, significantly above the market. Our channel analysis suggests evidence of significant overshipment over the last 2 quarters."
“We believe current dynamics bring risk to PC client results into the back half of the year."
While no fan of AMD, and acknowledging it’s too soon to tell how successful it will be, Rasgon sees a warning sign:
However, we noted an interesting incremental datapoint in Intel's results. Q2 was the first quarter (since Intel began providing data in 2013) that the company's desktop ASPs have declined YoY. Coincidentally, Q2 was also the first quarter that AMD's Ryzen desktops were shipped in volume. » While one datapoint of course does not necessarily make a trend, it is not challenging to interpret it as potentially the first bit of evidence that competition is starting to show up in numbers.
He also takes aim at the company’s data center
business, writing there’s little hope for the improvement in outlook bulls seem to be hoping for:
We believe bullish investors have been hoping for the company to raise their current "high single digit" guidance for DCG this year. However, Q1 disappointed, and Q2 was only in-line; neither showed any acceleration vs current expectations and the company has so far held guidance, accompanied though it is by (in their own words) their "biggest datacenter refresh in 10 years.” We still are not convinced that the company was being overly conservative when they gave guidance. Indeed, just to reach "high single digits" for the year requires a second half that is up solidly in the double digits, and strong vs recent years; increasing guidance (to, say, low double digits) would require a 2H on the order of 2014 (the strongest year for DCG in recent history). Additionally, current guidance already suggests extremely strong 2H v 1H outlook; raising guidance would require the strongest 2H over 1H growth in many years. And of course current numbers likely already contain over a billion dollars in Skylake-SP pre-shipments in the 1H, potentially absorbing some of the pent-up demand (as well as implying the 1H was even weaker than it appeared).
Intel shares are up 7 cents at $36.41 in early trading.
Intel: First Signs of AMD’s Impact? Asks Bernstein