3 Important Growth Drivers for NVIDIA

By John Ballard Markets Fool.com

NVIDIA is impacting major economic industries. Image source: NVIDIA.

Continue Reading Below

NVIDIA (NASDAQ: NVDA) stock has skyrocketed over the last year, leaving many investors wondering whether it's time to sell, and others asking whether it's too late to buy.

Let's take a look at three operating segments that are showing no signs of slowing down.

Data center

NVIDIA's data center business has been the company's fastest-growing segment. In the most recent quarter, data center revenue tripled year over year and increased 23% over the previous quarter to $296 million. This brings its trailing-12-month revenue to $830 million.

The data center business is on pace to be the company's largest segment in the next few years. The rapid adoption of deep learning and artificial intelligence (AI) has been well under way by technology companies like Facebookand Microsoftbut is only just scratching the surface in government, science, healthcare, retail, transportation, and finance.

Continue Reading Below

On the most recent conference call, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said about the utility of deep learning: "It is incredibly useful, and this tool has at the moment found no boundaries of problems that it's figured out how to solve."

It seems this tool also has no boundaries in growing NVIDIA's data center revenue.

Self-driving cars

NVIDIA is also applying its GPU technology to assist automakers in using AI systems for self-driving vehicles. NVIDIA's DRIVE PX 2 platform is being used for AutoCruise,sensors, and cameras to allow a car to locate itself on a map and choose the safest route forward.

Volkswagen AG'sAudi and Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benzwill have self-driving cars out later this year using NVIDIA's technology, and Teslahas already begun using a new autopilot system powered by NVIDIA's DRIVE PX 2 platform in the new Model S and Model X cars.

Volvo XC90 SUV equipped with the NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2 car computer will be available in Sweden in 2017. Image source: NVIDIA.

By 2020, cars will begin rolling out with more advanced autonomy that will allow drivers to turn control over to the car in all safe driving conditions. Driver attention will only be required in a few circumstances, such as severe weather.

NVIDIA will have competitors in the self-driving car market, but as of now, NVIDIA is the clear leader supplying autonomous car technology to major automakers, auto suppliers, and mapping companies.

Gaming

Selling GPUs to PC gamers so they can enjoy the most graphically intense games is still NVIDIA's largest business. In the recent quarter, gaming revenue increased 66% year over year to $1.35 billion. Gamers are upgrading older GPUs to the new Pascal-based GPUs, which are providing more capability for competitive gaming with e-sports and virtual reality (VR).

Going forward, e-sports, VR, and the Pascal upgrade cycle should continue to boost the gaming segment. The graphics quality of games is getting better, so that encourages more gamers who are using older GPUs to upgrade. Competitive gamers who participate in e-sports tournaments need high-end GPUs to provide the best gaming experience in order to compete at the highest level, and NVIDIAs GTX family of GPUs test out higher on the performance charts compared to alternatives from Advanced Micro Devices.

What is NVIDIA's market opportunity?

One reason above all others why I like NVIDIA is that its GPU technology has the potential to serve every economic sector in the world. It is clear NVIDIA has a lot of room to grow over time, but it is hard to quantify the size of its market opportunity, which leads me to believe that investors and analysts may be under-appreciating the long-term value of the business even after the stock's meteoric rise.

The trigger that will allow NVIDIA to grow to a much bigger business is its technology being adopted as the standard for solving problems in deep learning, AI, and autonomous vehicles. This is why Intel and Microsoftsaw tremendous growth during the rapid PC adoption in the 1990s, and it could be NVIDIA's important tipping point to delivering great returns over the next 10 years and beyond.

10 stocks we like better than Nvidia
When investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*

David and Tom just revealed what they believe are the 10 best stocks for investors to buy right now... and Nvidia wasn't one of them! That's right -- they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.

Click here to learn about these picks!

*Stock Advisor returns as of February 6, 2017

Teresa Kersten is an employee of LinkedIn and is a member of The Motley Fool's Board of Directors. LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft. John Ballard owns shares of NVIDIA. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Facebook, NVIDIA, and Tesla. The Motley Fool recommends Intel. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.