Nvidia (NVDA) Surges 200% YTD While CEO Dumps Shares – Buy or Sell?

A significant rebound in technology stocks was witnessed in 2023, with the Nasdaq Composite index soaring almost 31% year-to-date. This resurgence can be mainly attributed to the advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI), notably the advent of large language model-based (LLM) chatbots, which acted as the primary catalyst. The burgeoning excitement around AI has led to the tech-rich Nasdaq surging about 32% during the first six months of the year, marking its best half-year performance since 1983.

The Santa Clara, California-based chipmaker NVIDIA Corporation (NVDA) plays an instrumental role in sparking the AI revolution. The company's Graphic Processing Units (GPUs) are indispensable to Generative AI applications, powering their processing needs.

The company delivered outstanding earnings reports in the past quarters in a tremendous stride fueled by intense demand for AI chips. The surge in tech advancements and AI applications has driven NDVA's market cap to top $1 trillion.

This notable achievement made it the sixth U.S. company to reach this significant milestone, besides being the inaugural chip manufacturer to enter the prestigious trillion-dollar club.

Owing to its powerful performance, NVDA reported an annual revenue of $4.28 billion in the fiscal year that ended January 27, 2013, which swelled to an impressive $26.97 billion in the fiscal year that ended January 29, 2023. Over the past decade, the chipmaker's revenue spiraled more than six-fold.

NVDA's executive, Manuvir Das, predicts a substantial growth opportunity in the AI space. He anticipates a total addressable market of $300 billion in chips and systems, complemented by $150 billion each in generative AI and omniverse enterprise software. This impressive $600 billion market potential in AI and the surging demand for transformative technologies will significantly propel NVDA's sales and earnings growth.

The company registered remarkable revenue growth with a 22.7% CAGR over the past 10 years. Factors contributing to this rapid acceleration included dominance in PC gaming and professional visualization, along with a tenacious foothold in the data center sector. These sectors jointly accounted for 56% of the company's total revenue in fiscal 2023.

However, during the same period, the contribution from gaming dwindled from 46% to 34%, and the contribution of the professional visualization segment declined from 8% to 6%.

Shares of NVDA commanded prominent attention from investors, evident from its extraordinary 200% year-to-date surge in stock price. Buoyed by the anticipation that the company will emerge as the chief benefactor of the burgeoning AI revolution, this surge is expected to persist.

Despite these bullish signs, NVDA’s co-founder and CEO Jensen Huang recently undertook an extensive sell-off of his shares in the company, triggering alarm bells for investors. According to Form 4 Filings submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mr. Huang unloaded 59,376 shares during trading sessions on September 12 and September 13, translating to a sale of $26.94 million worth of the company's stock.

Notably, this was not the first instance of such an action by the CEO in recent weeks. Earlier in the month, Mr. Huang divested approximately $42.83 million worth of his shares after exercising his options, amounting to total sales of NVDA shares valued at $112 million thus far. Due to the ongoing correction, the stock has been down about 11% since the beginning of September 2023.

Should Investors Panic?

The CEO's recently executed large-scale stock divestment has led some analysts to express concerns over NVDA's stock price stability. The substantial shock to NVDA's stock value, following his significant share sell-off in January 2022, fuels these apprehensions.

Investor wariness typically escalates when a company's CEO offloads shares, a gesture often construed as a sign of dwindling confidence in the firm's future trajectory.

Questions loom about whether AI stocks are experiencing an inflated bubble or are paving the way for a substantial and enduring bullish market trend. Given this speculation-riddled climate, it is plausible that the chip giant has emerged as a contested stock. With sky-rocketing performance expectations, investors are tethered to NVDA's every move.

NVDA posted its second-quarter report on August 23, 2023, shattering projected earnings and sales figures. Analysts collectively predicted earnings per share of $2.07 and sales totaling $11.09 billion. NVDA outperformed these estimates, attaining $2.70 earnings per share and $13.51 billion in sales.

Adding shine to an already resplendent quarterly report, NVDA forecasted approximately $16 billion in revenue for the upcoming quarter, far outpacing average analyst predictions.

Despite these outstanding achievements, NVDA's stock experienced a slight dip post-earnings disclosure.

While at first glance, Mr. Huang's stock divestment may ring alarm bells, insight from NVDA's latest DEF-14A filings detailing insider and institutional ownership stock holdings reveal otherwise. With these data, average shareholders should not be overly concerned about the CEO's recent actions.

As evidenced in files provided to the SEC, reflecting holdings recorded on April 3, 2023, Mr. Huang held 86,878,193 shares of the company stock, attributing him a 3.5% ownership stake and qualifying him as the largest individual shareholder.

While his position is significant, heftier investment companies like Vanguard, BlackRock, and Fidelity Investments possess larger portions of 8.3%, 7.3%, and 5.6% of the company's shares, respectively. The recent divestiture of stocks by Mr. Huang insignificantly makes up less than 1% of his overall holdings in the company.

Furthermore, it is pertinent to note that the stock sale originated from options awarded through his executive compensation plan; hence, his total ownership did not decline. These latest transactions only represent a minor fluctuation in an otherwise stable ownership portfolio.

Despite this month's recent sale, the CEO remains significantly invested in the firm. His significant stake motivates him to adopt actions and strategies directly benefitting the wider shareholder community.

The decision of a CEO to dispose of company shares can be associated with various reasons. While it is vital to monitor insider activities, NVDA shareholders could also focus on the broader organizational performance rather than overanalyzing what is essentially a minor movement from Mr. Huang's end.

Here are some other factors that could influence NVDA’s performance in the upcoming months:

Recent Developments

Understanding that strategic partnerships are key to their success, NVDA’s CEO is pursuing a cooperative collaboration strategy, gaining traction among tech leaders.

This month, NVDA joined forces with India’s Tata Group and Reliance Industries Limited to collaboratively build an AI computing infrastructure and platforms for producing AI solutions.

NVDA's strategic move into India, the fastest growing economy, fortifies its global dominance in AI, deploying its design language to establish a benchmark enduring enough to make it challenging for rival chip manufacturers' attempts to succeed.

Last month, NVDA announced a deal with Google Cloud, which would lead to a deeper integration of the two tech giants' hardware and software products. Mr. Huang said, “We’re at an inflection point where accelerated computing and generative AI have come together to speed innovation at an unprecedented pace. Our expanded collaboration with Google Cloud will help developers accelerate their work with infrastructure, software, and services that supercharge energy efficiency and reduce costs.”

Moreover, the increased partnership of the U.S. with Vietnam, predominantly in fields like technology, semiconductors, and tourism, could serve as a boon for NVDA. The chip behemoth is partnering with Vietnamese firms FPT, Viettel, and VinGroup to bring AI to the cloud, automotive, and healthcare industries.

Mixed Financials

NVDA’s net revenue for the fiscal second quarter that ended July 30, 2023, increased 101.5% year-over-year to $13.51 billion. NVDA's performance was driven by its data center business, which includes the A100 and H100 AI chips needed to build and run AI applications like ChatGPT.

The company reported $10.32 billion in data center revenue, up 171% year-over-year. Its non-GAAP operating income was $7.78 billion, up 486.9% year-over-year.

Its non-GAAP net income and non-GAAP net income per share stood at $6.74 million and $2.70, up 421.7% and 429.4% year-over-year, respectively. Also, its free cash flow grew 634% year-over-year to $6.05 billion.

However, for the same quarter, net cash used in investing activities stood at $447 million, compared to net cash provided by investing activities of $1.62 billion in the year-ago quarter. Also, net cash used in financing activities grew 35.5% year-over-year to $5.10 billion. Moreover, as of June 30, 2023, its total current liabilities stood at $10.33 billion, compared to $6.56 billion as of January 29, 2023.

Stretched Valuation

NVDA’s forward non-GAAP P/E and EV/Sales of 40.55x and 19.95x are 82.1% and 637.1% higher than the industry averages of 22.27x and 2.71x, respectively. Likewise, its forward EV/EBIT and Price/Sales multiples of 35.53 and 20.04 are 94.4% and 658.8% higher than the industry averages of 18.28 and 2.64, respectively.

Robust Growth

Over the past three and five years, NVDA’s revenue grew at 35.8% and 22.4% CAGRs. Its EBITDA, EBIT, and net income grew at 41%, 42.8%, and 45% over the past three years, whereas, over the past five years, these grew at 21.7%, 19.6%, and 19.1%, respectively. The company’s levered free cash flow has grown at 39.7% and 31.7% CAGRs over the past three and five years.

High Profitability

NVDA’s trailing-12-month net income margin of 31.60% is significantly higher than the industry average of 2.03%. Likewise, its trailing-12-month Return on Common Equity (ROCE) of 40.22% is significantly higher than the industry average of 1.01%. Its trailing-12-month cash from operations of $11.90 billion is significantly higher than the industry average of $60.08 million.

Growing Institutional Ownership

NVDA’s robust financial health and fundamental solidity make it an appealing investment opportunity for institutional investors. Notably, several institutions have recently modified their NVDA stock holdings.

Institutions hold roughly 66.2% of NVDA shares. Of the 3,666 institutional holders, 1,562 have increased their positions in the stock. Moreover, 430 institutions have taken new positions (13,151,499 shares).

Price Performance

As a result of such increased attention, NVDA’s shares have gained 233.1% over the past year to close the last trading session at $439.66. Over the past six months, the stock gained 70.9%.

Moreover, NVDA’s stock is trading above its 100-day and 200-day moving averages of $406.55 and $309.93, respectively, indicating an uptrend.

Wall Street analysts expect the stock to reach $636.32 in the next 12 months, indicating a potential upside of 44.7%. The price target ranges from a low of $475 to a high of $1,100.

Favorable Analyst Estimates

For the fiscal third quarter ending October 2023, analysts expect NVDA’s revenue and EPS to increase 171% and 477.10% year-over-year to $16.07 billion and $3.35, respectively.

Moreover, for the fiscal year ending January 2024, its revenue and EPS are expected to come at $54.10 billion and $10.83, indicating increases of 100.6% and 224.1% year-over-year, respectively. Furthermore, it has surpassed the consensus revenue estimates in each of the trailing four quarters and EPS in three of the trailing four quarters, which is impressive.

Bottom Line

Rising apprehensions relating to inflation, soaring interest rates, and escalating bond yields may threaten NVDA’s stock price performance in the near future. The escalating geopolitical strain between the U.S. and China additionally muddles this precarious scenario.

Considering these dynamics, CEO Huang's recent bout of stock sales might be misconstrued as another bearish pointer. However, upon closer examination, these actions appear far less alarming than initially presumed.

Furthermore, while some skeptics argue that NVDA's shares have undergone a swift uptick, they seemingly overlook the dawn of the AI revolution. Consequently, it is feasible that NVDA could enjoy several more years of vigorous growth.

Strategic collaborations between countries are anticipated to spur AI adoption worldwide, amplifying the demand for NVDA's chips, software, and services.

NVDA's enthusiasm for AI has translated into an encouraging outlook for the third quarter. In addition to projecting revenue of $16 billion in the third quarter of fiscal year 2024, it also predicts a non-GAAP gross margin of 72.5%.

However, despite NVDA's extensive potential, the stock has already witnessed nearly a 200% rally this year, placing it at a rather costly valuation. Acknowledging these elements, it could be wise to wait for a better entry point in the stock.