Nvidia’s rapid sell-off is a reminder of how much speculation went into its earlier run-up, when the company played squarely into the hype surrounding artificial intelligence. Researchers flocked to the company’s GPUs to accelerate the training of their complex models, and Nvidia sought to capitalize on the craze.
Executives started talking more about AI and the company added AI features directly into its silicon. Cloud providers offered Nvidia GPUs that developers could rent. In 2016, Google announced custom-built chips that can train AI models just like Nvidia’s GPUs. But Nvidia brushed off any potential threat from Google, because the chipmaker’s processors would still be more widely available.
At its high, Nvidia was selling for almost 54 times forward earnings, well over four times the current price-to-earnings multiple for the semiconductor sector, according to FactSet. Sales and profit continue to grow — just not fast enough to meet investors’ lofty expectations.
Now shareholders are bailing. On Dec. 11, Bloomberg reported that SoftBank could sell its Nvidia stake early next year, citing people familiar with the matter. The stock has dropped in seven of the nine trading days since that story was published.