It is most definitely quarterly reports time for our favorite tech firms. NVIDIA’s is unique with their fiscal vs. calendar year as compared to how AMD and Intel report. This has to do when NVIDIA had their first public offering and set the fiscal quarters ahead quite a few months from the actual calendar. So when NVIDIA announces Q4 2017, it is actually reflecting the Q4 period in 2016. Clear as mud?
Semantics aside, NVIDIA had a record quarter. Gross revenue was an impressive $2.173 billion US. This is up slightly more than $700 million from the previous Q4. NVIDIA has shown amazing growth during this time attributed to several factors. Net income (GAAP) is at $655 million. This again is a tremendous amount of profit for a company that came in just over $2 billion in revenue. We can compare this to AMD’s results two weeks ago that hit $1.11 billion in revenue and a loss of $51 million for the quarter. Consider that AMD provides CPUs, chipsets, and GPUs to the market and is the #2 x86 manufacturer in the world.
The yearly results were just as impressive. FY 2017 featured record revenue and net income. Revenue was $6.91 billion as compare to FY 2016 at $5 billion. Net income for the year was $1.666 billion with comparison to $614 million for FY 2016. The growth for the entire year is astounding, and certainly the company had not seen an expansion like this since the early 2000s.
The core strength of the company continues to be gaming. Gaming GPUs and products provided $1.348 billion in revenue by themselves. Since the manufacturing industry was unable to provide a usable 20 nm planar product for large, complex ASICs companies such as NVIDIA and AMD were forced to innovate in design to create new products with greater feature sets and performance, all the while still using the same 28 nm process as previous products. Typically process shrinks accounted for the majority of improvements (more transistors packed into a smaller area with corresponding switching speed increases). Many users kept cards that were several years old due to there not being a huge impetus to upgrade. With the arrival of the 14 nm and 16 nm processes from Samsung and TSMC respectively, users suddenly had a very significant reason to upgrade. NVIDIA was able to address the entire market from high to low with their latest GTX 10×0 series of products. AMD on the other hand only had new products that hit the midrange and budget markets.
The next biggest area for NVIDIA is that of the datacenter. This has seen tremendous growth as compared to the other markets (except of course gaming) that NVIDIA covers. It has gone from around $97 million in Q4 2016 up to $296 million this last quarter. Tripling revenue in any one area is rare. Gaming “only” about doubled during this same time period. Deep learning and AI are two areas that required this type of compute power and NVIDIA was able to deliver a comprehensive software stack, as well as strategic partnerships that provided turnkey solutions for end users.
After datacenter we still have the visualization market based on the Quadro products. This area has not seen the dramatic growth as other aspects of the company, but it remains a solid foundation and a good money maker for the firm. The Quadro products continue to be improved upon and software support grows.
One area that promises to really explode in the next three to four years is the automotive sector. The Drive PX2 system is being integrated into a variety of cars and NVIDIA is focused on providing a solid and feature packed solution for manufacturers. Auto-pilot and “co-pilot” modes will become more and more important in upcoming models and should reach wide availability by 2020, if not a little sooner. NVIDIA is working with some of the biggest names in the industry from both automakers and parts suppliers. BMW should release a fully automated driving system later this year with their i8 series. Audi also has higher end cars in the works that will utilize NVIDIA hardware and fully automated operation. If NVIDIA continues to expand here, eventually it could become as significant a source of income as gaming is today.
There was one bit of bad news from the company. Their OEM & IP division has seen several drops over the past several quarters. NVIDIA announced that the IP licensing to Intel would be discontinued this quarter and would not be renewed. We know that AMD has entered into an agreement with Intel to provide graphics IP to the company in future parts and to cover Intel in potential licensing litigation. This was a fair amount of money per quarter for NVIDIA, but their other divisions more than made up for the loss of this particular income.
NVIDIA certainly seems to be hitting on all cylinders and is growing into markets that previously were unavailable as of five to ten years ago. They are spreading out their financial base so as to avoid boom and bust cycles of any one industry. Next quarter NVIDIA expects revenue to be down seasonally into the $1.9 billion range. Even though that number is down, it would still represent the 3rd highest quarterly revenue.