Nvidia warned investors today that it expects much weaker sales, thanks to China’s weakened economy and slipping demand from cryptocurrency miners. Nvidia says it likely made $500 million less than previously expected during the last financial quarter — $2.2 billion in revenue as opposed to $2.7 billion.
Nvidia previously foresaw that it would do worse in Q4 thanks to a lack of demand from cryptocurrency miners, as prices of digital coins have largely rendered mining unprofitable for most except the largest and most efficient of organizations. Earlier in 2018, Nvidia had stocked up on excess inventory following the cryptocurrency boom, foreseeing a lot of demand from consumers. That lines up with the reports that GPU prices were inflating and gamers found it hard to obtain GPUs during the height of cryptocurrency mania.
But as the boom died out, Nvidia even faced a class-action lawsuit in December for allegedly misleading investors by claiming that a drop-off in GPU demand wouldn’t hurt the company’s profits. The lawsuit says Nvidia falsely claimed to be “masters at managing our channel” and monitoring the cryptocurrency market.
China’s weak economy took Nvidia more by surprise
While Nvidia expected the losses from cryptocurrency, China’s weakening economy was more of an unexpected twist. China’s economy has hurt companies from Apple to Samsung, and Nvidia is only the latest company to cite it as a source of strife. The Chinese economy has slowed, with the government injecting a record $83 billion in cash on January 16th in hopes of combating the weak growth. Given the country’s penchant for PC gaming, the slowdown has directly impacted Nvidia’s sales.
China has been here before, but last time, it was here with the rest of the world. During the 2008 global recession, the Chinese government responded by flooding the economy with cash, which successfully boosted growth rates while also creating large debt. This time, officials aren’t resorting to such extreme tactics, hoping that measures like tax cuts and rail projects will play a role in saving the economy. China’s financial woes are also worsened by the ongoing tariff war with the US.
In addition, fewer consumers than expected bought higher-end GPUs that used Nvidia’s new Turing architecture. According to Nvidia, many likely waited for the GPUs to grow cheaper or for even newer and more advanced models to come out. “Q4 was an extraordinary, unusually turbulent, and disappointing quarter,” said Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of Nvidia in a statement.
The earnings call is scheduled for Valentine’s Day.