Most of 2023 has been defined by the big tech stocks driving bullish sentiment and overcoming 2022’s bear market. That said, since about halfway through the summer, the bull market has been on pause with the prospect of interest rates remaining high for longer than expected, among other macro factors, putting a dampener on proceedings.
Still, going by the past week’s performance, there are signs the bulls’ charge is about to resume in earnest. In fact, with Q3 earnings season about to commence, Goldman Sachs’ portfolio strategist Cormac Conners points out that going by past events, the coming period might be a bountiful one, especially for the tech leaders.
“History suggests that the upcoming 3Q results may catalyze a momentum reversal in the largest tech stocks,” Conners recently wrote. “Since 4Q16, the mega caps in aggregate have beaten consensus sales growth expectations 81% of the time and have outperformed in two-thirds of earnings seasons, typically by 3pp.”
With this in mind, we decided to get the lowdown on two mega-cap tech names the Goldman analysts believe are primed to use the coming earnings season as a catalyst for further gains. Moreover, according to the TipRanks database, both are currently rated as Strong Buys by the analyst consensus. Here are the details.
Nvidia Corporation (NVDA)
We’ll start with Nvidia, a major player in the semiconductor chip industry. The company has found a solid base of support in strong customer demand for its high-end GPU chips, which have become essential to the rapid growth of AI technology.
The explosive growth of AI since the end of last year has clearly been good for Nvidia. Since 2020, the company has been an important supplier of GPU chips for OpenAI, whose ChatGPT sparked off the current AI revolution. OpenAI has already indicated that it will need some 10,000 chips heading into next year, just to maintain ChatGPT’s performance capabilities. Nvidia’s exposure to this, and to other facets of AI, has fueled a surge in its top and bottom lines over the past several quarters, and Nvidia has become one of just 5 publicly traded companies valued at more than $1 trillion.
A quick look back at Nvidia’s last earnings report will show the magnitude of the company’s recent growth. Nvidia reported a company record of $13.5 billion in quarterly revenue for fiscal 2Q24, its last release. This was up 101% year-over-year, and beat the forecast by over $2.4 billion. The bottom line of $2.70 per adj. share, was 61 cents per share ahead of the estimates – and was up a whopping 429% compared to the prior year quarter.
Looking ahead, the Street expects further gains when Nvidia reports its fiscal Q3 results next month. The outlook for revenue is $15.87 billion, and for non-GAAP EPS is $3.35.
For Goldman’s Toshiya Hari, the near- to mid-term looks good for the company. Nvidia should benefit, in his view, from continued strong customer demand, fueled by data center and AI applications. The 5-star analyst writes, “Looking ahead, we see the combination of a strong/broadening demand profile in Data Center and an improving supply backdrop supporting sustained revenue growth through CY2024. Importantly, although we recognize emerging competition from the large cloud service providers (i.e. captive/internal solutions) as well as other merchant semiconductor suppliers, we expect Nvidia to maintain its status as the accelerated computing industry standard for the foreseeable future given its competitive moat and the urgency with which customers are developing/deploying increasingly complex AI models.”
This stock is off the peak value it hit at the end of August, but it is still up by 219% year-to-date and Hari thinks there are still solid gains ahead to look forward to. He gives NVDA shares a Buy rating, with a $605 price target to imply 32% upside potential for the next 12 months. (To watch Hari’s track record, click here)
The tech giants never lack for Wall Street attention, and Nvidia has 39 recent analyst reviews on record – with a lopsided 38 to 1 breakdown favoring Buys over Holds, for a Strong Buy consensus rating. The shares have a trading price of $457.62, and their $647.04 average price target is more bullish than Hari’s, suggesting a 41% gain for the year ahead. (See NVDA stock forecast)
Next up is Amazon, one of the world’s instantly recognizable brand names. Amazon boasts a proven record as a ‘tech survivor,’ having gotten its start in the late ‘90s – and then surviving the dot.com bubble that winnowed the early field of tech companies. Today, Amazon leads the global e-commerce market, and with its $1.3 trillion market cap is another of the 5 largest firms in the public stock markets. This impressive edifice stands on the company’s online retail operations, which last year moved approximately $690 billion in gross merchandise volume.
While online retail gets the headlines, Amazon has its hands in multiple pots. The company is constantly developing new products to take advantage of newly opened niches – look at the way Amazon Web Services quickly became a major player in cloud computing. Amazon also has multiple AI-based products under development, with prominent projects including a chatbot, an image building platform, and a software code development tool. The company is also integrating AI into the existing AWS, which in the last reported quarter, 2Q23, generated over $22 billion in revenue.
Amazon shares have retreated some ~12% from their September peak although the stock is still up 49% for the year-to-date, an overall gain based on solid performance.
We saw those performance metrics in the company’s 2Q23 results. Amazon’s top line came to $134.4 billion, beating the forecast by $3 billion and growing 11% y/y. We’ve already noted the y/y growth in AWS, which helped to power the overall revenue total; the company’s North American retail was also up year-over-year, by 11%, to reach $82.5 billion. Amazon’s Q2 EPS figure of 65 cents was 31 cents better than expected – but that figure benefited from a $200 million gain due to non-operating expenses from the company’s equity holdings in Rivian Automotive, where the comparable figure in the previous year quarter was a $3.9 billion loss.
When we look towards Amazon’s upcoming Q3 results, we see that Wall Street is expecting an EPS of 58 cents, supported by revenues of $141.5 billion.
5-star analyst Eric Sheridan covers this stock for Goldman, and in his view, the company’s strong AWS performance will remain in the driver’s seat, while Amazon as a whole does well on the long term: “We remain convinced that AWS remains on track to return to a more normalized growth/margin structure in 2024 and that the segment is well positioned (contrary to current investor perception) against the rising computing shifts towards AI. Looking over a multi-year timeframe, we reiterate our view that Amazon will compound a mix of solid revenue trajectory with expanding margins as they deliver yield/returns on multiple year investment cycles.”
Sheridan’s stance supports his Buy rating, and his $180 price target implies a strong 41% upside potential on the one-year horizon. (To watch Sheridan’s track record, click here)
Overall, Amazon has picked up 41 recent analyst reviews, and these include 40 Buys against a single Hold to give the stock a Strong Buy consensus rating. AMZN boasts an average price target of $176.02, suggesting an increase of 37.5% from the current $127.96 share price. (See Amazon stock forecast)
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.