Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD): What Happened?

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Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NYSE:AMD)Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NYSE:AMD) recently reported its first quarter results, which were very discouraging. The company had a rough 2012 and reported an $1.1 billion operating loss, almost wiping out the profits generated in the last two years ($471 million in 2010 and $491 million in 2011).

AMD has been affected by declining PC sales, but it is slowly transforming its business. It has a target of increasing the sales of embedded and semi-custom processors to 20% by 4Q13. From a longer perspective, it plans to generate 40% to 50% of its revenues from high growth markets like dense servers and embedded and semi-custom processors. This is indeed a big target, but will the company be able to hit it?

What went wrong?

Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NYSE:AMD) derives approximately 74% of its revenues from traditional computing solutions; hence any changes in the PC market will invariably have a drastic impact to the company. That’s why the company has been facing declining revenues as a result of a decrease in global PC shipments. This is a result of cannibalization from tablets and new mobile devices as well as, to an extent, the weak consumer demand of the Windows 8 OS. A recent report by IDC shows a 13.9% decline in first quarter PC shipments, the worst decline since 1994.

A second issue was the manufacturing glitch by GlobalFoundries in 2011. GlobalFoundries, in which Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NYSE:AMD) had 34% stake, faced manufacturing issues that affected the shipment of its next generation Interlagos, based on its bulldozer architecture. Since then Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NYSE:AMD) has reduced its share to 8.8% in GlobalFoundries and agreed to pay $703 million as a onetime charge for the amendment of the agreement.

The third problem is increasing competition. Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NYSE:AMD) consistently lives under the shadow of the giant Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) , and is also facing increasing competition from NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) in the graphic processing unit (GPU) market. It did launch a number of compelling products, but faced headwinds. Its Bulldozer architecture was not only launched late into the market but also did not meet expectations on the performance and power parameters. Further, as it failed to sell its Llano APU it incurred a $100 million inventory write-off in 2012.

What can it do to make things right?

Success of its new products is the only way through which the company can arrest the bleeding in its profitability and cash. On its recent earnings call, the company mentioned that it is entering a significant product launch cycle. It aims to retake share from Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) mainly in the entry-level PCs segment and regain its market share in the GPU market from NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA).

For 2013, a large portion of its momentum is expected to come from game consoles. It has entered into deals with Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony to provide chips for its game consoles. Sony’s PlayStation 4 will be powered by Advanced Micro Devices’ semi-custom accelerated processing unit, and Microsoft’s Xbox 720 will operate under its Jaguar’s 8-core CPU. The graphic processor of Nintendo’s WII U is powered by Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NYSE:AMD). Though the product has met with lukewarm response, it is expected to generate millions of sales this year. In all the company expects to ship 40 million game consoles in 2013.

In an attempt to break free from dependence on the PC market, the company is increasingly focused on expanding its coverage in the tablet computer segment. It has developed a TurboDock technology that automatically adjusts the power supply according to the user’s usage. This technology will definitely add fuel to Advanced Micro Devices’ success, as it is foreseen as a new trend in mobile computing.

As the company’s products meet with success combined with its increasing hold on game consoles, the company will definitely improve its financial position. With the above the company is on the right track to reach its target of 20% of revenues from embedded and semi-custom chips, as mentioned earlier.

What are competitors doing?

However, its competitors Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) and Nvidia are constantly developing new products and are taking advantage of Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NYSE:AMD)’ loss of market share.

In the smartphone and tablet market, while Advanced Micro Devices and Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) are still trying to gain a foothold, NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) has already dug its heels.

Nvidia has its own virtual game store for Android games – “Tegrazone.” It also manufactures the Tegra processors for cars, and management projects that it will generate $450 million by 2013. Besides this it has been consistently developing various game consoles like Project Shield, which is to be released in 2Q13. In the visual computing technology space, it plans on introducing a new product line called GRID, and the company believes it is a $10 billion opportunity.

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