Nvidia’s stock upgraded as AI deemed ‘too much of a megatrend’ to ignore

Nvidia Corp.’s valuation “has moved to the stratosphere on near-term numbers,” but Morgan Stanley still sees the stock as an attractive way to play the semiconductor landscape.

Morgan Stanley’s Joseph Moore upgraded the shares to overweight from equal weight late Thursday, cheering opportunities brought on by the enthusiasm around generative artificial intelligence. That’s the type of AI popularized by OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot, whose hype has prompted companies across industries to look for AI tie-ins within their own businesses.

Read more: Tech execs didn’t just start talking about AI — but they are talking about it a lot more

Nvidia
NVDA,
+0.72%
can help power these applications, one reason Moore is feeling more upbeat about the name.

“The high capital intensity of these workloads, particularly on the training side, is now a major part of the calculus for the largest companies in technology, with NVIDIA having dominance in the training market that is likely to persist for several years,” he wrote.

Read: As chip sales dry up, Nvidia CFO says spending on AI will save companies money

Moore was previously on the sidelines on Nvidia because he worried about data-center and gaming trends. That dynamic has “largely played out,” he wrote Thursday, plus “the development of generational AI is too much of a megatrend to get distracted by tactical concerns.”

He added that excitement around large-language models, which use machine learning to understand language, “is turning into stronger spending both near term and long term.”

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Moore did address what he deemed a stratospheric valuation for the stock, which he said is “trading at a P/E premium to our entire universe.” But he also noted that “the overall semiconductor group has rallied to an uncomfortable point that there are few bargains in areas with longer-term growth potential even as conditions are difficult.”

When thinking about trends on a five-year basis, Nvidia’s stock is still expensive, “but not dramatically out of line with peers,” he argued. There’s even the potential for Nvidia to win at the rest of the computing world’s expense, he reasoned, as companies face budget pressures but recognize the importance of investing in AI.

Moore wrote that “cloud vendors are going to slash spending on traditional workloads to fund ever-smarter AI models.”

Read: OpenAI launches ‘safer’ AI, GPT-4; Morgan Stanley one of its first customers

He boosted his price target to $304 from $225 on the stock, which is up 1.3% in morning trading Friday.

Nvidia shares have powered 77% higher so far this year, as the S&P 500 index
SPX,
-1.10%
has risen 2%.