Nvidia Corp.’s data-center chips brought in more money than the gaming specialist’s core business for the first time in the company’s second quarter, but new gaming chips amid a pandemic-influenced boom in videogames are expected to flip that back around and produce even more record sales.
Nvidia (NVDA) reported $1.75 billion in data-center sales in the second quarter Wednesday, more than double last year’s total of $655 million and ahead of the average analyst expectation of $1.71 billion. The data-center segment is especially important to investors after Nvidia announced its latest Ampere-architecture-based offering for servers earlier this year.
It was also the first full quarter that Nvidia’s Mellanox Technologies acquisition, which closed in April, contributed to revenue. On a conference call, Chief Financial Officer Collette Kress said that Mellanox contributed about 14% of total revenue and more than 30% of data-center revenue, and “was a critical part of several of our major new product introductions this quarter.”
Gaming sales rose more than expected in the second quarter, totaling sales of $1.65 billion after posting revenue of $1.31 billion a year ago. The average Wall Street estimate called for sales of $1.41 billion. It was the first time data-center sales eclipsed gaming sales for the company, though that trend may not last — Nvidia is expected to announce a new line of Ampere gaming chips at a Sept. 1 event, and expectations for the gaming segment in the third quarter are high.
“I think this may very well be one of the best gaming seasons ever,” Chief Executive Jensen Huang said on the conference call. “We’re already seeing amazing numbers from our console partner Nintendo.”
In an interview with MarketWatch after the conference call, Kress said that gaming is expected to surpass data center in the current quarter amid back-to-school and early holiday sales of gaming PCs and Nintendo Co. Ltd.’s (NTDOY) manufacturing of Switch consoles for the holidays. It could be a close race, however.
“Gaming is growing faster sequentially than data center in the next quarter. In our second quarter, DC surpassed gaming … [but] it will likely be gaming as we move into Q3,” she said
For the third quarter, Nvidia expects record revenue of $4.31 billion to $4.49 billion, while analysts had forecast sales of $3.97 billion. In addition to a big console ramp-up, Huang said that the COVID-19 pandemic has driven more people to videogames as a source of entertainment.
“With all that’s happening around the world, and it’s really unfortunate, but it’s made gaming the largest entertainment medium in the world,” Huang said on the call.
“The thing that people haven’t realized about videogames is that it’s not just a game itself anymore,” Huang said. “You’re spending time with your friends. You’re using it to create, to realize your imaginations. People are using it for broadcast, for sharing ideas and techniques with other people, and then of course it’s just an incredibly fun way to spend time.”
Nvidia has rocketed to a record $300 billion-plus valuation this year, easily surpassing former Silicon Valley semiconductor king Intel Corp. (INTC) , on hopes for its videogame chips and server offerings.
For more: Nvidia is officially not just a gaming company anymore
Nvidia reported fiscal second-quarter net income of $622 million, or 99 cents a share, compared with $552 million, or 90 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Adjusted earnings, which exclude stock-based compensation expenses and other items, were $2.18 a share, compared with $1.24 a share in the year-ago period. Revenue rose to $3.87 billion from $2.58 billion in the year-ago quarter.
Analysts surveyed by FactSet had forecast earnings of $1.97 a share on revenue of $3.65 billion.
Kress said the company expects sequential gains of 25% in gaming sales and low-to-mid single digits in data-center sales in the third quarter. Analysts expect $1.7 billion in gaming sales, or 3% higher than second-quarter levels, and $1.77 billion in data-center sales, or 1% higher than those reported in the second quarter.
Shares declined about 1% in after-hours trading, after a recent prolonged run to record highs. The stock declined 1% to $485.54 in the regular trading session to come up short of Monday’s record close of $493.48.
For the year, Nvidia shares have gained 106%, while the PHLX Semiconductor Index (SOX) has risen 19%, the S&P 500 index (SPX) has advanced 4.5%, and the Nasdaq Composite Index (COMP) has gained 24%.
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