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Nvidia bounces back with profits as PC market recovers

A strong PC market buoyed by demand for Windows 7 computers helped boost Nvidia’s profits for the fourth fiscal quarter ended Jan. 31.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company is a big player in the graphics chip market, competing with Intel and Advanced Micro Devices. So its strong quarter is a good sign that the PC market is getting stronger. It’s also good for Nvidia, considering the company is months late with its Fermi next-generation graphics chip.

The company said net income for the period was $131.1 million, or 23 cents a share, compared to a loss of $147.7 million, or 27 cents a share, a year ago. Excluding one time-items, fourth quarter earnings were 23 cents a share. Revenue more than doubled to $982.5 million from $481.1 million a year ago.

Analysts had expected Nvidia to post earnings of 20 cents a share, and $957.2 million in revenue. For the current first quarter, Nvidia said it expects revenue to be flat compared to the fourth quarter, while operating expenses will also be flat at $305 million.

In a conference call, chief executive Jen-Hsun Huang said that Fermi is now in mass production and that the chip would be used across Nvidia’s high-end graphics chip product lines, including chips used in supercomputers and chips for high-end gaming computers.

The company has had a hard time launching Fermi so far because of a shortage of 40-nanometer wafers (which are processed and sliced into working chips) at its contract suppliers. The shortage has loosened up, giving the company enough visibility to declare that the launch is coming soon. Meanwhile, Nvidia says that acceptance of its Tegra chip for cell phones and mobile Internet devices is gaining momentum. Car makers such as Audi will be using Tegra-based computers to power vehicle information systems in cars being launched in 2012. Other design wins for Tegra are being announced this week at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona.


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