Nvidia rides games and AI chip sales to $2.91 billion Q4 revenue

Nvidia illustrates deep learning by teaching a computer to recognize flowers.

Nvidia used to be synonymous with graphics chips for game machines. But now it is using those same chips to drive artificial intelligence calculations, and that is taking the company into new markets from servers to self-driving cars.

For the fourth fiscal quarter ended January 31, the Santa Clara, California-based company reported revenues and earnings that beat expectations on Wall Street. Nvidia reported non-GAAP earnings per share of $1.72, up 52 percent from a year ago, on revenue of $2.91 billion, up 34 percent from a year earlier. Revenues were up 10 percent from the prior quarter.

In afterhours trading, Nvidia’s stock price is up 11 percent to $240.82 a share.

Analysts expected Nvidia to report earnings per share of $1.16, up 17 percent from the same quarter a year earlier. Revenue was expected to be $2.68 billion for the quarter, up 23 percent from a year earlier.

AI chips are still a minority of the business, and cryptocurrency mining is a very small part of the business, but they have been driving excitement for the company. Miners of cryptocurrencies like Ethereum and Bitcoin have been using graphics cards to speed up the ability to get digital coins. Nvidia has downplayed the popularity of cryptomining for its business, as it fluctuates wildly.

For fiscal 2018, revenue was a record $9.71 billion, up 41 percent from $6.91 billion a year earlier. GAAP earnings per diluted share were a record $4.82, up 88 percent from $2.57 a year earlier. Non-GAAP earnings per diluted share were $4.92, also a record, up 61 percent from $3.06 a year earlier.

“We achieved another record quarter, capping an excellent year,” said Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang, in a statement. “In a powerful sign of our progress, attendees at Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conferences reached 22,000, up tenfold in five years, as software developers working in AI, self-driving cars, and a broad range of other fields continued to discover the acceleration and money-saving benefits of our GPU computing platform.”

He added, “Industries around the world are racing to incorporate AI. Virtually every internet and cloud service provider has embraced our Volta GPUs. Hundreds of transportation companies are using our Nvidia Drive platform. From manufacturing and healthcare to smart cities, innovators are using our platform to invent the future,” he said.

Nvidia made only a brief mention that cryptocurrency mining helped make a difference in the big quarterly results.

Growth was driven by GPU sales in gaming, data center, and professional visualization, as well as its all-in-one Tegra processors. Nvidia saw strong sales of gaming GPUs, driven by PC game sales, holiday seasonal demand, Internet cafe upgrades, esports, and cryptocurrency mining.

Revenue for the data center was $606 million, up 105 percent from a year ago. Professional visualization chip revenue was $254 million, while Tegra processor revenue was $450 million, up 75 percent from a year earlier. Automotive revenue was $132 million, up 3 percent from a year earlier.

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