By Chavi Mehta and Stephen Nellis
(Reuters) – Nvidia Corp forecast better-than-expected fiscal first-quarter revenue on Wednesday, expecting strong demand for its graphics chips used in gaming PCs and artificial intelligence chips for data centers.
As people wait for COVID-19 vaccine rollouts around the world, stay-at-home orders have helped sustain the demand for chips used in personal computers, gaming devices and data center infrastructure that enables remote working.
The Santa Clara, California-based company’s gaming chips have also regained popularity for mining cryptocurrency, a trend Nvidia is trying to counter by throttling its gaming chips ability to mine for currencies and instead offering specialty chips for mining.
While Nvidia was long known for its gaming graphic chips, its aggressive push into artificial intelligence chips that handle tasks such as speech and image recognition in data centers has helped it become the most valuable semiconductor maker by market capitalization.
It has eclipsed rivals Intel Corp and Advanced Micro Devices.
Shares were up 3% at $597.50 in extended trading after the results.
On a conference call with investors, Chief Financial Officer Colette Kress said that a global chip crunch made it hard to keep the company’s flagship gaming chips introduced last fall in stock and that the chips would likely remain in tight supply through the fiscal first quarter.
The company also said it will make a change to its gaming chips starting with the RTX-3060s to make them less efficient for mining cryptocurrency. The company said it will instead introduce mining-specific chips.
“We would like GeForce GPUs (graphics processing units) to end up with gamers,” Kress said.
Kress said analysts have estimated that cryptocurrency mining contributed between $100 million and $300 million to Nvidia’s sales in the fiscal fourth quarter. The company expects the new mining chips to generate about $50 million revenue in its fiscal first quarter, Kress added.
The company expects first-quarter revenue of $5.30 billion, plus or minus 2%, above analysts’ average estimate of $4.51 billion.
Revenue in the quarter ended on Jan. 31 rose to $5 billion from $3.11 billion a year earlier. Analysts on average were expecting $4.82 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Revenue in the company’s gaming segment was $2.5 billion, above analyst estimates of $2.36 billion, according to data from FactSet. Data center revenue was $1.9 billion, above estimates of $1.84 billion according to FactSet data.
(Reporting by Chavi Mehta in Bengaluru and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Maju Samuel and Will Dunham)