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Buy Nvidia because its chips will dominate the artificial intelligence market: Jefferies

Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO of Nvidia, holds a Nvidia Drive PX Auto-Pilot Computer during the GPU Technology Conference in San Jose, California, last March.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO of Nvidia, holds a Nvidia Drive PX Auto-Pilot Computer during the GPU Technology Conference in San Jose, California, last March.

Nvidia, the best-performing stock over the past year, will thrive from the artificial intelligence technology trend, according to one Wall Street analyst.

Jefferies reiterated its buy rating for Nvidia shares, predicting the chipmaker will report profits above expectations in fiscal 2019, which begins in February.

Nvidia’s graphics processing chips have become popular with gaming, and its Volta chip is proving to be popular with AI applications, something that will “translate to upside surprises over the next 18-24 months,” semiconductor analyst Mark Lipacis wrote in a note to clients Monday. “Nvidia remains a top pick.”

Nvidia shares declined slightly shortly after Monday’s market open.

The company introduced its Volta line of artificial intelligence processors on May 10.

Its stock is up 192 percent in the past 12 months through Friday compared with the S&P 500’s 20 percent gain. That is the best performance in the entire S&P 500, according to FactSet.

Lipacis raised his price target for Nvidia shares to $230 from $180. The new target is 17 percent above Friday’s closing price.

The analyst predicts the company will eventually capture 80 percent of the artificial intelligence chip market’s profit pool. He noted the technology business histories of Apple and Microsoft. Those two companies were able to obtain the vast majority of industry profits during the rise of smartphones and PCs, respectively.

Lipacis forecasts Nvidia fiscal 2019 earnings-per-share of $4.12 versus the Wall Street consensus of $4.00.

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