Copper's Correction: Time to Re-Evaluate Your Investments

The copper market has seen a significant uptrend in 2024, with prices surging more than 20% from mid-February to late May. However, shortly after that, copper prices fell below $10,000 per metric ton on the London Metal Exchange (LME) due to increasing global inventories and sluggish U.S. job openings data.

Meanwhile, COMEX copper futures continued their downward trend, dipping below $4.5 per pound in June, nearing their lowest level in over a month, completely erasing the gains made in May that pushed copper prices to a record high of $5.2. This price decline is primarily due to evidence of lower near-term demand.

After the official Manufacturing Purchasing Manager Index (PMI) indicated an unexpected contraction in China's manufacturing sector, trade data for the period revealed a 7.1% decrease in imports of copper ore turnover, despite the previous price surge, as refiners have increasingly turned to using scrap to sustain production. As a result, Chinese inventories have grown to their highest levels since 2020, surpassing seasonal trends that usually favor a drawdown.

So, the price of deliveries from Shanghai bonded warehouses has remained at a discount to the LME for two consecutive weeks. Moreover, the LME three-month contract has lost nearly 12% since it hit a record high of $11,104.50 on May 20, 2024.

Despite this, copper prices have risen by around 15% year-to-date, driven by speculative bets on impending shortages. This speculation is fueled by copper’s critical role in electrification, particularly in grid-scale energy and data center infrastructure, and the challenges associated with launching new projects for fresh ore supply.

Bullish Long-Term Trend

The long-term COMEX copper futures chart, dating back to 1971, reveals that futures never surpassed the $1.6475 per pound level before 2005. However, since then, the market dynamics have shifted significantly, with copper prices not falling below $2 since early 2016 and have stayed above $3 per pound since October 2020. The price action pattern indicates that a new all-time high has followed every correction in copper.

Similarly, the long-term London Metals Exchange (LME) copper chart exhibits a bullish technical pattern.

Overall, these patterns suggest a robust and ongoing upward trend in copper prices, driven by increased demand, limited supply, and copper’s critical role in various industries. Despite short-term volatility, this long-term bullish trend indicates a positive outlook for copper investments.

However, the recent correction prompts investors to reassess their positions in copper stocks such as Freeport-McMoRan Inc. (FCX) and Southern Copper Corporation (SCCO), considering both the potential for future growth and the current risks involved.

Freeport-McMoRan Inc. (FCX)

With a $69.76 billion market cap, Freeport-McMoRan Inc. (FCX) is a prominent metals company with a primary focus on copper. The company manages seven copper operations in North America: Morenci, Bagdad, Safford (including Lone Star), Sierrita, and Miami in Arizona, as well as Chino and Tyrone in New Mexico. Additionally, FCX operates a copper smelter in Miami, Arizona.

FCX has a potential expansion project to surpass the concentrator capacity of its Bagdad operation in northwest Arizona. With a life expectancy exceeding 80 years, Bagdad's reserve supports an expanded operation. In late 2023, the company finalized technical and economic studies, indicating the opportunity to build new concentrating facilities to boost copper production by 200-250 million pounds annually, exceeding Bagdad’s current output rate.

At its Safford/Lone Star operation, FCX is completing projects aimed at increasing copper production from oxide ores to 300 million pounds per year. It marks an expansion from the initial design capacity of 200 million pounds per year.

For the first quarter that ended March 31, 2024, FCX’s copper sales were 1.1 billion pounds, 11% higher than the January 2024 estimate of 1 billion pounds, and 33% up from the prior year’s quarter, mainly reflecting higher mining and milling rates and ore grades at PT-FI. Its revenues rose 17.3% year-over-year to $6.32 billion.

Further, average unit net cash costs for FCX’s copper mines of $1.51 per pound were below the January 2024 estimate of $1.55 per pound and first-quarter 2023, primarily reflecting higher copper volumes at PT-FI. During the quarter, the company’s operating cash flows were $1.9 billion, net of $0.1 billion of working capital and other uses. As of March 31, 2024, cash and cash equivalents totaled $5.2 billion.

Kathleen L. Quirk, FCX’s President, stated, “Our first-quarter results reflect strong execution of our operating plans, consistent with our long-standing focus on operational execution.”

“Market fundamentals for copper are positive, supported by copper’s increasingly important role in the global economy and limited available supplies to meet growing demand. Freeport is strongly positioned for the future as a leading producer of copper with multiple options for future growth and an experienced team with a track record of accomplishment,” Quirk added.

Moreover, the company’s financial policy aligns with its strategic objectives of maintaining a solid balance sheet, delivering cash returns to shareholders, and pursuing opportunities for future growth. On March 27, 2024, FCX’s Board of Directors declared cash dividends of $0.15 per share on its common stock, paid on May 1, 2024, to shareholders of record as of April 15, 2024.

For the year 2024, the company’s sales are expected to approximate 4.15 billion pounds of copper, and unit net cash costs are anticipated to average $1.57 per pound of copper. Further, FCX expects operating cash flows to be nearly $7.4 billion, net of $0.2 billion of working capital and other uses, for the year.

Street expects FCX’s revenue and EPS for the fiscal year (ending December 2024) to increase 10.5% and 5.8% year-over-year to $25.26 billion and $1.63, respectively. Moreover, the company has topped the consensus revenue estimates in all four trailing quarters.

Shares of FCF have surged more than 30% over the past six months and approximately 31% over the past year. However, the stock has declined nearly 5% over the past month.

Southern Copper Corporation (SCCO)

With a market cap of $84.35 billion, Southern Copper Corporation (SCCO) engages in mining, exploring, smelting, and refining copper and other minerals. The company operates the Toquepala and Cuajone open-pit mines and a smelter and refinery in Peru; and La Caridad, an open-pit copper mine, alongside copper ore concentrator, a SX-EW plant, a smelter, refinery, and a rod plant in Mexico.

In addition, the company operates Buenavista, an open-pit copper mine, as well as two copper concentrators and two operating SX-EW plants in Mexico.

During the first quarter that ended March 31, 2024, SCCO’s net sales grew 13.3% from the previous quarter to $2.60 billion. The growth was mainly driven by a surge in the sales volumes of copper (+9.6%) and silver (+15.3%) and an uptick in metal prices for all its products. Its operating cash cost per pound of copper dropped 14.2% quarter-over-quarter.

Notably, copper production registered a quarter-on-quarter rise of 6,181 tons (+2.6%) and 16,998 tons (+7.6%) compared to the prior year’s quarter. Year-over-year growth was mainly attributable to a rise in copper from concentrate production at all its mines (+12.7%), including 2,158 tons of copper from the new zinc concentrator.

Furthermore, SCCO’s operating income grew 37% from the prior year to $1.19 billion. The company’s net income was $736 million, or $0.95 per share, an improvement of 65.4% and 63.8% quarter-on-quarter, respectively. Its adjusted EBITDA rose 34.3% from the previous year to $1.42 billion.

Cash inflows from operating activities were $659.9 million, a 22% increase from the $540.9 million reported in the fourth quarter of 2023. This improvement was due to strong cash generation from its operations, driven by higher sales and effective cost-control measures. As of March 31, 2024, the company’s cash and cash equivalents were $1.25 billion, compared to $1.15 billion as of December 31, 2023.

On April 19, 2024, SCCO’s Board of Directors declared a quarterly stock dividend of 0.0104 shares of common stock, paid on May 23, 2024, for shareholders of record at the close of business on May 8, 2024.

During the last earnings call, SCCO stated that it sees robust market demand, driven by both a resilient US economy and emerging needs in decarbonization technologies and artificial intelligence. These factors will play a substantial role in bolstering long-term copper demand, thereby maintaining favorable copper prices. Demand is anticipated to increase by nearly 2.5% this year.

Analysts expect SCCO’s revenue and EPS for the second quarter (ending June 2024) to increase 14.4% and 27.7% year-over-year to $2.63 billion and $0.90, respectively. Additionally, the company’s revenue and EPS for the fiscal year 2024 are anticipated to grow 11.3% and 25.1% from the prior year to $11.01 billion and $3.89, respectively.

SCCO’s stock has surged more than 44% over the past six months and approximately 54% over the past year. However, the stock has plunged around 10% over the past month due to a recent correction.

Bottom Line

The recent correction in copper prices, marked by a decline from a record high hit on May 20, can be attributed to several factors affecting supply and demand dynamics in the market. Higher global inventories and evidence of lower near-term demand, particularly highlighted by an unexpected contraction in China's manufacturing sector, led to a downturn in copper prices.

For investors, this correction serves as a reminder of the inherent volatility in commodity markets. However, it does not necessarily negate the long-term bullish trend driven by increased demand, limited supply, and copper’s critical role in various industries, especially in electrification and decarbonization initiatives. Despite short-term fluctuations, the fundamental drivers supporting copper’s growth trajectory remain intact.

Investors should consider strategies to navigate periods of high volatility. Diversification across different assets can help mitigate risks associated with individual commodities or stocks. Furthermore, hedging options such as futures contracts or options can safeguard against adverse price movements.

In the case of FCX and SCCO, their robust operational performances and strategic initiatives position them for long-term solid growth. However, investors should remain vigilant, continuously reassessing their positions and adjusting strategies as market conditions evolve. They can navigate copper price fluctuations by staying informed and adopting a diversified approach while capitalizing on the long-term potential.

Target vs. Walmart: Which Retail Giant Offers Better Dividend Returns?

Dividend investing is a cornerstone of many investors’ portfolios, providing a steady income stream and long-term growth potential. Blue-chip stocks are among the most stable and safest investments, but a select few companies excel in maintaining their financial growth and paying consistent, high-yield dividends to investors.

In the realm of blue-chip retail giants, Target Corporation (TGT) and Walmart Inc. (WMT) stand out as formidable players with excellent dividend growth histories. Through strategic investments and acquisitions, robust financial health, and a solid commitment to customer satisfaction, these companies have managed to thrive and offer reliable dividend payouts.

Let’s compare TGT and WMT’s dividend yields, growth rates, and overall financial health to help investors determine which stock offers better dividend potential.

Target Corporation (TGT)

With a $68.17 billion market cap, Target Corporation (TGT) is one of the leading retail corporations in the U.S. that offers a wide variety of products at competitive prices through its extensive network of stores and e-commerce platform, Target.com.

In March, the Minneapolis-based retailer announced plans to invest in its guest experience and long-term growth. The reintroduced Target Circle loyalty program will provide three new membership options, including a free-to-join option, allowing guests to choose how to shop and save. Target Circle has already become one of the largest loyalty programs in retail, with over 100 million members saving millions of dollars annually.

Also, this year, TGT plans to launch and expand its owned brands to offer various options across categories, products, and prices, such as dealworthy, up&up, and Gigglescape. Moreover, Target-owned brands offer quality, value, and innovation, driving more than $30 billion in sales in 2023. Further, the company will invest in the store-as-hubs model over the next decade, planning to build more than 300 new stores and enhance supply chain operations.

Despite significant investments in improving its customer experience and store presence, Target has shown resilience in maintaining a robust financial position. For the first quarter that ended May 4, 2024, TGT’s sales decreased 3.2% year-over-year to $24.14 billion. However, digital comparable sales rose 1.4% year-over-year, and same-day services grew about 9%, led by over 13% growth in Drive Up. It reported net earnings of $942 million, or $2.03 per share, respectively.

As of May 4, 2024, the company’s cash and cash equivalents were $3.60 billion, compared to $1.32 billion as of April 29, 2023.

“Looking ahead, our team will deliver for our guests through lower prices, a seasonally relevant assortment, ease and convenience, as we keep investing in our strategy and efficiency initiatives to get back to growth and deliver on our longer-term financial goals,” said Brian Cornell, chair and chief executive of Target Corporation.

For the second quarter of 2024, Target expects a 0-2% rise in its comparable sales and adjusted EPS of $1.95-$2.35. For the full year, the company projects a 0-2% increase in comparable sales and adjusted EPS of $8.60 to $9.60.

TGT’s solid financial performance and stability translate into attractive returns for investors. During the first quarter, the company paid dividends of $508 million, compared with $497 last year, an increase of 1.9% in the dividend per share.

On March 13, Target’s Board of Directors declared a quarterly dividend of $1.10 per common share, payable June 10, 2024, to shareholders of record at the close of business on May 15, 2024. This will be the company’s 227th consecutive dividend paid since October 1967, when it became publicly held.

TGT pays an annual dividend of $4.40, which translates to a yield of 2.92% at the current share price, which is quite attractive for income-focused investors, providing a solid return on investment. Its four-year average dividend yield is 2.18%. It maintains a payout ratio of around 50%, indicating that the company distributes half of its earnings as dividends, balancing shareholder returns with reinvestment in business growth.

Additionally, Target has a commendable history of consistently increasing its dividend payouts. The company’s dividend payouts have grown at a CAGR of 17.4% over the past three years and 11.4% over the past five years. Notably, TGT has raised its dividends for 55 consecutive years.

In addition to solid dividend growth, Target has demonstrated impressive performance in stock price appreciation. TGT’s stock has gained more than 10% over the past six months and nearly 12% over the past year.

Walmart Inc. (WMT)

With a market capitalization of $540.73 billion, Walmart Inc. (WMT) engages in retail and wholesale business, offering an assortment of apparel, footwear, general merchandise, and groceries at everyday low prices.

Walmart expanded its popular InHome delivery service to an additional 10 million U.S. households, including those in California. In addition to the San Bernardino market, the company expanded its service to include customers in Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia, bringing the total scale to more than 50 markets covering about 45 million U.S. homes.

In February, WMT announced an agreement to acquire VIZIO, a prominent American company known for manufacturing consumer electronics. The strategic acquisition of VIZIO and its SmartCast Operating System (OS) will allow Walmart to serve its customers in new ways, including through innovative television and in-home entertainment and media experiences.

Further, this combination is anticipated to boost Walmart’s media arm in the U.S., Walmart Connect, by integrating VIZIO's advertising solutions business with Walmart's extensive reach and capabilities.

WMT, the world’s largest retailer, boasts a robust financial position with steady revenue growth and a solid balance sheet. During the first quarter that ended April 30, 2024, the retailer’s total revenues increased 6% year-over-year to $161.50 billion. Moreover, its global e-commerce sales were up 21%, driven by store-fulfilled pickup & delivery and marketplace.

In addition, the company’s adjusted operating income was $7.10 billion, up 13.7% from the year-ago value, due to higher gross margins and growth in membership income. Its adjusted EPS rose 22.4% year-over-year to $0.60. As of April 20, 2024, WMT’s cash and cash equivalents were $9.40 billion.

Looking ahead, the company expects net sales to increase by 3.5% to 4.5% and operating income to rise by 3% to 4.5% in constant currency (cc) for the second quarter. For the full year, it anticipates to be at the high-end or slightly above its prior guidance (cc) for net sales growth of 3%-4% and operating income growth of 4%-6%.

Walmart’s extensive global footprint and solid financial health provide a stable foundation for continued, attractive dividend payouts. In February, WMT’s Board of Directors declared an annual cash dividend for the fiscal year 2025 of $0.83 per share on a post-stock split basis. It represents a nearly 9% increase from the $2.28 per share paid in fiscal 2024.

“Dividends continue to be a part of our diversified capital returns approach. We're proud to be increasing our annual dividend for the 51st consecutive year. This year’s 9 percent increase is the largest in over a decade, and a sign of our confidence in our growth potential and cash flow,” stated John David Rainey, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Walmart.

WMT’s annual dividend of $0.83 translates to a yield of 1.24% at the prevailing share price. While lower than Target’s yield, the company still provides a steady income stream for investors. Its four-year average dividend yield is 1.53%. Also, it maintains a payout ratio of 33.46%.

Moreover, the company’s dividend payouts have grown at a CAGR of 3% over the past three years and 2.6% over the past five years. Walmart has a consistent history of annual dividend increases, albeit at a slower growth rate than Target.

Shares of WMT have surged nearly 28% over the past six months and more than 34% over the past year.

Bottom Line

Both TGT and WMT represent formidable investment opportunities with robust dividend credentials and solid fundamentals, making them worthy considerations for income-focused investors seeking exposure to the retail sector. However, while comparing Target and Walmart’s dividend potential, Target emerges as the frontrunner, offering a higher dividend yield and a track record of robust dividend growth.

So, TGT is a relatively more attractive investment option for those seeking better dividend potential within the retail industry.

Intel's AI Ambitions: A Strategic Shift Toward Private Data Storage Solutions

Intel Corporation (INTC), a titan in the world of semiconductors, is navigating a period of transformative change that is revolutionizing its corporate culture and product development. Traditionally, Intel’s core offerings have been microprocessors that serve as the brains of desktop PCs, laptops and tablets, and servers. These processors are silicon wafers embedded with millions or billions of transistors, each acting as binary switches that form the fundamental ‘ones and zeros’ of computer operations.

Today, the thirst for enhanced processing power is insatiable. The proliferation of Artificial Intelligence (AI), which has become integral to essential business operations across almost every sector, exponentially increases the need for robust computing capabilities. AI, particularly neural networks, necessitates enormous computing power and thrives on the collaborative efforts of multiple computing systems. The scope of these AI applications extends far beyond the PCs and servers that initially cemented INTC’s status as an industry leader.

The rapid advancement of AI has prompted Intel to rethink and innovate its chip designs and functionalities. As a result, the company is developing new software and designing interoperable chips while exploring external partnerships to accelerate its adaptation to the evolving computing environment.

Strategic Pivot Toward AI Ecosystem

At Computex 2024, INTC unveiled a series of groundbreaking AI-related announcements, showcasing the latest technologies that merge cutting-edge performance with power efficiency (especially in data centers and for AI on personal computers). The company aims to make AI cheaper and more accessible for everyone.

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger emphasized how AI is changing the game, stating, “The magic of silicon is once again enabling exponential advancements in computing that will push the boundaries of human potential and power the global economy for years to come.”

In just six months, Intel achieved a lot, transitioning from launching 5th Gen Intel® Xeon® processors to introducing the pioneering Xeon 6 series. The company also previewed Gaudi AI accelerators, offering enterprise clients a cost-effective GenAI training and inference system. Furthermore, Intel has spearheaded the AI PC revolution by integrating Intel® Core™ Ultra processors in over 8 million devices while teasing the upcoming client architecture slated for release later this year.

These strides underscore Intel's commitment to accelerating execution and driving innovation at an unprecedented pace to democratize AI and catalyze industries.

Strategic Pricing and Availability of Its Gaudi AI Accelerators

Intel is gearing up to launch the third generation of its Gaudi AI accelerators later this year, aiming to address a backlog of around $2 billion related to AI chips. However, the company anticipates generating only about $500 million in Gaudi 3 sales in 2024, possibly due to supply constraints.

To broaden the availability of Gaudi 3 systems, Intel is expanding its network of system providers. The company is now collaborating with Asus, Foxconn, Gigabyte, Inventec, Quanta, and Wistron alongside existing partners like Dell Technologies Inc. (DELL), Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co (HPE), Lenovo Group (LNVGY), and Super Micro Computer, Inc. (SMCI), to ensure Gaudi 3 systems are available far and wide once they hit the market.

But what caught attention at Intel's announcement was the company's attractive pricing strategy. Kits featuring eight Gaudi 2 AI chips and a universal baseboard will cost $65,000, while the version with eight Gaudi 3 AI chips will be priced at $125,000. These prices are estimated to be one-third and two-thirds of the cost of comparable competitive platforms, respectively.

While undercutting Nvidia Corporation (NVDA) on price, INTC expects its chips to deliver impressive performance. According to their estimates, a cluster of 8,192 Gaudi 3 chips can train AI models up to 40% faster than NVDA's H100 chips. Additionally, Gaudi 3 offers up to double the AI inferencing performance of the H100 when running popular large language models (LLMs).

Intel Continues to Ride with 500+ Optimized Models on Core Ultra Processors

In May, INTC announced that over 500 AI models now run optimized on new Intel® Core™ Ultra processors. These processors, known for their advanced AI capabilities, immersive graphics, and optimal battery life, mark a significant milestone in Intel's AI PC transformation efforts.

This achievement stems from Intel's investments in client AI, framework optimizations, and tools like the OpenVINO™ toolkit. The 500+ AI models cover various applications, including large language models, super-resolution, object detection, and computer vision, and are available across popular industry platforms.

The Intel Core Ultra processor is the fastest-growing AI PC processor and the most robust platform for AI PC development. It supports a wide range of AI models, frameworks, and runtimes, making it ideal for AI-enhanced software features like object removal and image super-resolution. This milestone underscores Intel's commitment to advancing AI PC technology, offering users a broad range of AI-driven functionalities for enhanced computing experiences.

Robust Financial Performance and Outlook

Buoyed by solid innovation across its client, edge, and data center portfolios, the company delivered a solid financial performance, driving double-digit revenue growth in its products. Total Intel Products chalked up $11.90 billion in revenue for the first quarter of 2024 (ended March 30), resulting in a 17% year-over-year increase over the prior year’s period. Revenue from the Client Computing Group (CCG) rose 31% year-over-year.

INTC’s net revenue increased 8.6% year-over-year to $12.72 billion, primarily driven by growth in its personal computing, data center, and AI business. Intel’s Data Center and AI (DCAI) division, which offers server chips, saw sales uptick 5% to $3.04 billion.

Also, the company reported a non-GAAP operating income of $723 million, compared to an operating loss of $294 million in the prior year’s quarter. Further, its non-GAAP net income and non-GAAP earnings per share came in at $759 million and $0.18 versus a net loss and loss per share of $169 million and $0.04, respectively, in the same quarter last year.

For the second quarter, Intel expects its revenue to come between $12.5 billion and $13.5 billion, while its non-GAAP earnings per share is expected to be $0.10.

Bottom Line

Despite vital innovations and solid financial performance, INTC’s shares have lost nearly 40% year-to-date and more than 3% over the past 12 months. However, with over 5 million AI PCs shipped since the December 2023 launch of Intel Core Ultra processors, supported by over 100 software vendors, the company expects to exceed its forecast of 40 million AI PCs by the end of 2024.

With the growing demand for AI chips, INTC could see a significant increase in Gaudi chip sales next year as customers look for cost-effective alternatives to NVDA's market-leading products. Moreover, if Intel's reasonable pricing resonates with prospective customers, the company could capture significant market share from its competitors.

Investing in AI: Should You Bet on AMD, Broadcom, or NVIDIA?

Is NVDA the Top Player in AI Stocks?

Initially famed for gaming GPUs, NVIDIA Corporation (NVDA) has evolved into a leader in data center hardware, spearheading AI advancement. The company’s Hopper GPUs are in high demand, accelerating AI applications from recommendation engines to natural language processing and generative AI large language models like ChatGPT on NVIDIA platforms. At this point, NVDA’s dominance in AI and data center markets is undeniable.

For the first quarter that ended April 28, 2024, Nvidia saw over 3x year-over-year increase to $26.04 billion, a new record level. NVIDIA’s Data Center Group (primarily connected to its AI operations) chalked up $22.60 billion in revenue, resulting in a 23% sequential gain and a massive 427% rise over the same period last year.

The chip giant’s operating income surged 690% from the year-ago value to $16.91 billion. NVIDIA’s non-GAAP net income amounted to $15.24 billion or $6.12 per share, compared to $2.71 billion or $1.09 per share in the previous year’s quarter, respectively.

Buoyed by a robust financial position, NVDA increased its quarterly dividend by 150% from $0.04 per share to $0.10 per share of common stock. The increased dividend is equivalent to $0.01 per share on a post-split basis and will be paid to its shareholders on June 28, 2024.

Moving forward, the company guided for a nice round of $28 billion in revenue for its second quarter of the fiscal year 2025, representing a projected 7.5% sequential gain. Its non-GAAP gross margin is expected to be 75.5%, plus or minus 50 basis points.

Analysts expect NVDA’s revenue for the fiscal 2025 second quarter (ending July 2024) to increase 109.7% year-over-year to $28.32 billion. The consensus EPS estimate of $6.35 for the current quarter indicates a 135.1% improvement year-over-year. Moreover, the company has an excellent earnings surprise history, surpassing the consensus EPS estimates in each of the trailing four quarters.

Nvidia’s comprehensive offerings, from chips to boards, systems, software, services, and supercomputing time, cater to expanding markets and diversify its revenue streams. Moreover, the chipmaker’s shares have surged more than 130% over the past six months and nearly 190% over the past year. NVIDIA's trajectory suggests an unstoppable momentum fueled by AI adoption mirroring a similar upward curve, promising a bright future.

Amid this, do AI stocks Broadcom Inc. (AVGO) and Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) stand a chance to be as big as the industry leader, NVIDIA? Let’s fundamentally analyze them to find the answer.

Broadcom Inc. (AVGO)

Broadcom Inc. (AVGO) is emerging as one of Nvidia's toughest rivals in the race for networking revenue, especially as data centers undergo rapid transformation for the AI era. As a global tech leader, AVGO designs, develops, and supplies semiconductor and infrastructure software solutions. The company produces custom AI accelerators for major clients and recently projected $7 billion in sales from its two largest customers in 2024, who are widely believed to be Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) and Meta Platforms, Inc. (META).

AVGO will announce its fiscal 2024 second-quarter earnings on June 12. Forecasts indicate a 37.4% year-over-year revenue surge to $12 billion, reflecting steady growth and financial resilience. Moreover, analysts expect a 5% uptick in the company’s EPS from the preceding year’s period to $10.84.

Broadcom has consistently exceeded consensus revenue and EPS estimates in each of the trailing four quarters, including the first quarter. Its net revenue increased 34% year-over-year to $11.96 billion, with a triple-digit revenue growth in the Infrastructure Software segment to $4.57 billion. AVGO’s gross margin grew 22.8% from the year-ago value to $7.37 billion.

On top of it, the company’s non-GAAP net income for the three months came in at $5.25 billion or $10.99 per share, up 17.2% and 6.4% year-over-year, respectively. Also, its adjusted EBITDA increased from the prior-year quarter to $7.16 billion.

Looking ahead, the company forecasts nearly $50 billion in revenues for fiscal year 2024, with adjusted EBITDA projected to be approximately 60% of its revenue. The company anticipates a 30% year-over-year surge in networking sales, driven by accelerated deployments of networking connectivity and the expansion of AI accelerators in hyperscalers. It also expects generative AI to account for 25% of semiconductor revenue.

The artificial intelligence megatrend is poised to significantly drive Broadcom's revenue and earnings growth in the upcoming decade. During a recent earnings call, Broadcom CEO Hock Tan emphasized, “Strong demand for our networking products in AI data centers, as well as custom AI accelerators from hyperscalers, are driving growth in our semiconductor segment.”

On May 20, 2024, AVGO announced its latest portfolio of highly scalable, high-performing, low-power 400G PCIe Gen 5.0 Ethernet adapters to revolutionize the data center ecosystem. These products offer an enhanced, open, standards-based Ethernet NIC and switching solution to resolve connectivity bottlenecks as XPU bandwidth and cluster sizes grow rapidly in AI data centers.

Patrick Moorhead, CEO & chief analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy, noted, “As the industry races to deliver generative AI at scale, the immense volumes of data that must be processed to train LLMs require even larger server clusters. Scalable high bandwidth, low latency connectivity is critical for maximizing the performance of these AI clusters.”

He added, “Ethernet presents a compelling case as the networking technology of choice for next-generation AI workloads. The 400G NICs offered by Broadcom, built on its success in delivering Ethernet at scale, offers open connectivity at an attractive TCO for power-hungry AI applications.”

With the company's expanding presence in the AI space, Broadcom stands out as a compelling alternative to major chip companies such as NVDA and AMD. Over the past six months, shares of AVGO have gained more than 42%, and nearly 63% over the past year, making it an attractive addition to your investment portfolio.

Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD)

Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) has been at the forefront of innovation in high-performance computing, graphics, and visualization technologies for decades. While NVDA may be the first name that comes to mind in AI processor sales, AMD has established itself as a formidable competitor in the GPU space, particularly excelling in chips tailored for AI workloads.

However, AMD's influence doesn't stop in hardware; it has been actively expanding its AI software ecosystem. The company recently unveiled the groundbreaking AMD Ryzen™ AI 300 Series processors, featuring the world’s most powerful Neural Processing Unit (NPU). These processors are designed to bring AI capabilities directly to next-gen PCs, promising a future where AI-infused computing is seamlessly integrated into everyday tasks.

Additionally, the next-gen AMD Ryzen™ 9000 Series processors for desktops solidify AMD’s position as a leader in performance and efficiency for gamers, content creators, and prosumers alike.

Moreover, the company’s comprehensive roadmap for the Instinct accelerator series promises an annual cadence of cutting-edge AI performance and memory capabilities across each generation. Beginning with the imminent release of the AMD Instinct MI325X accelerator in Q4 2024, followed by the anticipated launch of the AMD Instinct MI350 series powered by the new AMD CDNA™ 4 architecture in 2025, AMD is poised to deliver up to a 35x increase in AI inference performance compared to its previous iterations.

In the first quarter that ended March 30, 2024, AMD’s non-GAAP revenue increased 2.2% year-over-year to $5.47 billion. Both its Data Center and Client segments experienced substantial growth, each exceeding 80% year-over-year, fueled by the uptake of MI300 AI accelerators and the popularity of Ryzen and EPYC processors.

Moreover, the company’s non-GAAP operating income grew 3.2% from the year-ago value to $1.13 billion. Its non-GAAP net income and earnings per share rose 4.4% and 3.3% from the prior-year quarter to $1.01 billion and $0.62, respectively.

AMD expects its revenue in the second quarter of 2024 to be around $5.7 billion, with a projected growth of 6% year-over-year and 4% sequentially. Meanwhile, its non-GAAP gross margin is expected to be around 53%.

Street expects AMD’s revenue for the second quarter (ending June 2024) to increase 6.7% year-over-year to $5.72 billion. Its EPS for the ongoing quarter is projected to reach $0.68, registering a 17% year-over-year growth. Moreover, the company surpassed the consensus revenue estimates in each of the trailing four quarters.

While Nvidia’s Data Center segment reported a sales run rate of $90 billion in the last quarter alone, experts predict that the company could surpass the $100 billion mark in Data Center sales with this momentum. In contrast, AMD's recent guidance forecasts sales of $3.5 billion for its MI300 AI chips in 2024. There’s still a sizable gap between NVIDIA and AMD in AI revenue. To put things into perspective, NVDA's networking revenue alone is approximately four times larger than AMD's total AI chip sales.

Nonetheless, AMD is poised to drive AI innovation across various domains with a diverse portfolio spanning cloud, edge, client, and beyond. The stock has gained more than 55% and 39% over the past nine months and a year, respectively.

Bottom Line

With the global artificial intelligence (AI) market projected to soar from $214.6 billion in 2024 to $1.34 trillion by 2030 (exhibiting a CAGR of 35.7%), leading chip companies, including NVIDIA, Broadcom, and Advanced Micro Devices, are rapidly expanding their market presence, vying for a piece of the pie.

Given their solid fundamentals and promising long-term outlooks, NVDA, AVGO, and AMD appear in good shape to thrive in the foreseeable future. Thus, investors can place their bets on these stocks to garner profitable returns and capitalize on the upward curve of AI.

The Impact of Amazon’s (AMZN) Price Cuts on Its Financial Performance

As summer heats up, North America's largest retailers are diving into aggressive price-cutting campaigns to attract shoppers. Last week, an array of discounts emerged as retailers aimed to ease the financial strain on consumers. For instance, Target Corporation (TGT) announced that it would cut prices on 5,000 items, including diapers and pet food. This followed their February launch of the ‘dealworthy’ discount brand, introducing 400 household and essential products mostly priced under $10. Walmart Inc. (WMT) also revealed that it would lower costs on 7,000 items, marking a 45% increase in price rollbacks. Aldi and The Kroger Co. (KR) have also jumped on the bandwagon, aiming to reduce grocery prices.

In a move to stay competitive, Amazon Fresh, a subsidiary of Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN), has entered the fray with a promise akin to Prime Day, offering substantial price cuts on 4,000 products, with new deals rotating weekly. The company announced that these price reductions will apply to items both online and at its Amazon Fresh brick-and-mortar grocery stores.

“Increasing our weekly deals across thousands of items and expanding the reach of Prime Savings at Amazon Fresh is just one way that we're continuing to invest in competitive pricing and savings for all of our customers,” said Claire Peters, Amazon Fresh's worldwide vice president.

As reported by CNN, Amazon's sweeping price cuts will cover a variety of categories, including meat, seafood, frozen foods, beverages, snacks, dairy, cheese, and pasta. The discounts will apply to both well-known brands and Amazon’s private-label products, such as the Aplenty grocery line. Additionally, Amazon Prime members will receive an extra 10% off additional items when they shop online.

These widespread price cuts come at a time when inflation has persistently raised grocery costs by 1.1% year-over-year as of April, a slight decrease from March's figures. With restaurant food prices up by 4.1% over the same period, these retailers have a window to draw in budget-conscious consumers looking for grocery deals.

The company’s strategic move to offer significant savings not only aims to draw more customers but also solidify its position in the highly competitive grocery market.

Unlimited Grocery Delivery Subscription, a Treat for your Wallet!

Last month, the online retail giant launched a new, low-cost grocery delivery subscription service exclusively for Prime members. Priced at $9.99 per month (with a discounted rate of $4.99 per month for SNAP/EBT cardholders), this subscription service promises unlimited delivery on orders exceeding $35.

What sets this service apart is its extensive coverage, spanning over 3,500 cities and towns across the United States. Initially trialed in three cities in 2023, the program has now expanded nationwide, showcasing Amazon's commitment to streamline and enhance the grocery shopping experience.

Customers enrolled in this subscription gain access to a vast selection of retailers, including Whole Foods Market, Amazon Fresh, and various local grocery and specialty retailers accessible through Amazon.com. By incorporating popular stores like Cardenas Markets, Save Mart, Bartell Drugs, Rite Aid, Pet Food Express, and Mission Wine & Spirits, Amazon is further solidifying its position as a go-to destination for all grocery needs.

Tony Hoggett, senior vice president of worldwide grocery stores at Amazon, said, “Our goal is to build a best-in-class grocery shopping experience — whether shopping in-store or online — where Amazon is the first choice for selection, value, and convenience. We have many different customers with many different needs, and we want to save them time and money every time they shop for groceries.”

In the context of Amazon's recent price cuts and initiatives to enhance its grocery offerings, this new subscription service adds another layer of convenience and affordability for customers.

How Did Amazon Perform in the March Quarter?

In the first quarter that ended March 31, 2024, net sales increased 12.5% year-over-year to $143.31 billion. Sales at AWS accelerated 17%, reaching $25 billion, topping Wall Street’s expectations of $24.5 billion. This uptick comes after a period of slower growth due to reduced cloud spending, with new demand for generative artificial intelligence boosting AWS's performance.

Operating income surged 200% in the period to $15.31 billion, which outpaced revenue growth and demonstrated the effectiveness of Amazon’s cost-cutting and efficiency strategies. AWS contributed 62% of the total operating profit. In addition, AMZN’s net income more than tripled to $10.43 billion, or $0.98 per share, up from $3.17 billion, or $0.31 per share, a year earlier, beating analysts' average EPS estimate of $0.83.

The impressive earnings growth has been driven by Amazon's widespread cost-cutting, adjustments to its fulfillment operations, and stabilization in cloud spending. CEO Andy Jassy has been implementing a disciplined approach to spending while expanding profitable segments like advertising, cloud computing, Prime memberships, and the third-party marketplace.

For the second quarter, Amazon expects continued profitability growth, projecting operating income between $10 billion and $14 billion, up from $7.7 billion a year earlier. Net sales are forecasted to range from $144 billion to $149 billion, representing growth of 7% to 11%.

Shares of the e-commerce and tech company climbed more than 52% over the past year and nearly 21% year-to-date.

Bottom Line

Amazon’s strategic price cuts are more than just an attempt to lure in customers with the allure of a good deal; they are a calculated move to enhance consumer satisfaction and loyalty. By rotating sales and offering substantial discounts, Amazon gives budget-conscious shoppers a reason to keep coming back, ultimately boosting sales volume and customer engagement.

These discounts cover a wide range of essential grocery and entertaining staples, from meat and seafood to dairy and snacks, with some items marked down by as much as 30%. This tactic ensures that Amazon remains a top choice for food purchases, in addition to household items.

"Amazon is committed to building a best-in-class grocery shopping experience, whether in-store or online, grounded in the values Amazon is famous for: price, selection, and convenience," the company stated in a press release.

This commitment was evident during the recent Memorial Day sale, where Amazon slashed prices on over 50 items, including its own brands and popular electronics from Apple and Sony. The company offered up to 50% off Amazon devices like Fire tablets and Blink cameras, and 32-inch Amazon Fire TVs were discounted by 40%.

Moreover, the launch of subscription service complements these price cuts and enhances its competitive edge in the grocery delivery market. As the e-commerce giant continues to innovate and expand its offerings, its commitment to competitive pricing and customer satisfaction is evident. These efforts are likely to enhance customer loyalty, drive sales growth, and ultimately have a positive impact on AMZN’s financial performance.