Classic value-investing strategy is to buy into the unsexy, unglamorous companies that provide the building blocks the flashy market favorites need to function. Not surprisingly, a lot of investors are wondering if that is AMD (NASDAQ: AMD), the chipmaker also known as Advanced Micro Devices in today’s world.
AMD’s stock price shot up on 20 September, after reports that Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) was experimenting with its chips as a possible processor for artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms appeared. The story was that AMD and Tesla are collaborating on a next generation-processor for self-driving cars, CNBC reported.
The potential for AI is vast venture capitalist and early Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) investor Jim Breyer predicted that the artificial intelligence will be bigger than social media within a decade. Breyer told the crowd at Institutional Investor and CNBC’s Delivering Alpha conference that he’s super bullish on AI.
“I think opportunities from an investment standpoint will be five to 10 [times] — in terms of market cap around AI — what social [media] currently is,” Breyer boldly predicted. The CEO of Breyer Capital did not recommend any specific AI stocks, companies or applications and did not mention AMD.
Does AMD Make Money?
Such statements obviously have many investors wondering about AI infrastructure providers such as AMD. Lots of people will be wondering if AMD makes money, the answer right now is no.
AMD reported a loss of -$546 million (-€464.74 millilon) instead of a net income on June 30, 2017. To make matters worse, AMD has not reported a net income since September 2017; when it made $50 million (€42.56 million), ycharts reported.
Such losses demonstrate that AMD is a risky speculative play, not a value investment but what about its numbers? Are there other potential sources of cash at AMD we should know about?
The answer is no, AMD reported a negative “free cash flow” of -$94 million (-€80.01 million) on June 30, 2017. It also reported a “negative profit margin” of -1.31% on the same day. The company also reported losing -$164 million (€139.59 million) in cash from operations during second quarter 2017.
The only cash it made was $125 million (€106.40 million) in cash from financing, a sure sign that the company is borrowing money to stay in business. To be fair, AMD did report $3.37 billion (€2.87 billion) in assets and $844 million (€718.39 million) in cash and short term investments on June 30, 2017.
Is AMD’s Business Growing?
This makes AMD a classic Silicon Valley growth play that is a stock you buy for the revenue growth potential. Investors will want to know if AMD’s revenues are growing and the answer is sort of.
AMD’s revenues did increase in the 12 months between June 2016 and June 2017. Rising from $3.878 billion (€3.30 billion) to $4.619 billion (€3.93 billion), which is great. The problem with that is AMD’s revenues were higher at a figure of $4.64 billion (€3.95 billion) in June 2015. They even approached six billion dollars, reaching $5.888 billion (€5 billion) in June 2014.
That indicates a company at the mercy of customers, and a business that’s on a roller coaster. AMD lives from order to order and its profits depend upon a steady stream of big orders from customers.
Therefore, AMD is not a value investment because its business fluctuates dramatically. Instead it is a speculative play, a business that might develop in a real value at some point or simply collapse.
Is AMD a Good Speculative Play?
Despite all that many investors will wonder if AMD is a good speculative play. After all, the potential market for self-driving cars is vast, particularly if automotive giants like GM and Toyota become major players in the market. A company like AMD might make vast profits selling AI chips to car and truck makers.
Beyond that, there are lots of other products that might use AI chips. Two potentially huge markets are drones and industrial robots. Other areas that AMD might tap include aircraft, shipping, space exploration, home automation, and vehicles for functions such as farming, mining, and construction.
This makes AMD a fairly good risk for those with extra cash because it is cheap. The stock was trading at $12.53 (€10.67) a share on 27 September 2017. It was also a little undervalued with a market cap of $11.86 billion (€10.09 billion) and an enterprise value of $12.36 billion (€10.52 billion) on the same day.
A far Better AI stock than AMD
There are also some serious risks to be aware of at AMD including a negative return on equity of -224.9% on June 30, 2017. That makes AMD too risky for small investors.
Those seeking a cheap means of investing in autonomous vehicles would be better served by Ford (NYSE: F) which as trading at $11.90 (€10.13) a share on September 27, 2017, but reported a net income of $3.803 billion (€3.24 billion) and a free cash flow of $4.057 billion (€3.84 billion) on June 30, 2017.
Since Ford investors were rewarded with a 12.29% return on equity on June 30, 2017, and a dividend of 15¢ (€0.13) a share on July 20, 2017. It is clearly the investment to make for autonomous vehicles, particularly since Ford has plans to invest $1 billion in artificial intelligence.
AMD is just too risky for most investors, but it so cheap that it is worth the risk for those with some extra cash. A plus with AMD is that it might get bought out by a company like Ford or Tesla at some point. If you’re looking for a risk speculative stock in Silicon Valley, AMD just might be it.
A different version of this article previously appeared on Market Mad House.