Semiconductor stocks lost steam Wednesday after Evercore ISI analysts said that they didn’t see the group recovering until the second half of 2020, citing ongoing supply gluts. The VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF shed more than 2% by the end of the session, with Micron and several other individual names falling more than 5%.
The outlook for chip stocks isn’t all doom and gloom, according to Michael Bapis, managing director of Vios Advisors at Rockefeller Capital Management.
“You have a super, super high black cloud hanging over this with all the tariff wars, and I think that is part of it,” Bapis said Wednesday on CNBC’s “Trading Nation.”
“We’re early in the cycle” when it comes to the boom in technologies that rely on high-performance semiconductor chips to function, he added.
“To downgrade it now is piling on at this point,” Bapis said. “We use technology for everything, and semis are in that technology. There may be a little bit of a backup in demand, but looking out 24 months, this space is going to be higher.”
In that scenario, Evercore’s call — which sees the semi stocks possibly recovering in a year — could still play out. And if it does, Bapis said, a few stocks in the space have more room to recover than the rest.
“Think about Micron. It’s trading at 3 times earnings. Intel is trading at 10 times earnings, ” he said, adding that Intel’s 2.8% dividend yield essentially pays investors to wait for a recovery. Evercore’s note cited near-term downside risk for Micron.
For those with a two-year timeline, “I don’t think you can just buy the index,” Bapis said. “But overall, companies like Intel and Micron trading at such low valuations, you have to own them going forward.”
Craig Johnson, senior technical research analyst and managing director at Piper Jaffray, took the other side of the trade.
“From our perspective, this looks like a relief rally that’s complete,” he said in the same “Trading Nation” interview, pointing to a chart of the iShares PHLX Semiconductor ETF.
“We’re just sort of stalling out” after reaching that index’s 50-day moving average, he said. “If you were smart enough to play that bounce off of those May lows and you’re up about 12%, I’d be taking some money off the table here because you really don’t have any support until you get back to those lows once again.”
The VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF and the iShares PHLX Semiconductor ETF closed lower on Wednesday. Both are still up about 20% for 2019.
The VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF (SMH) was trading at $104.90 per share on Thursday afternoon, up $0.14 (+0.13%). Year-to-date, SMH has gained 7.25%, versus a 8.66% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.
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