Nvidia beats revenue estimates in Q4, lowers outlook for Q1

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Nvidia on Wednesday reported fourth-quarter earnings of $116 million on revenue of $953 million, beating both analyst's and its own estimations but also warning of slightly lowered revenues in the current quarter ending April. The company says that the ongoing hard disk drive shortages is hurting the PC industry, and therefore graphics cards sales, while the transition to 28nm has been steeper than expected.

Revenue for fiscal 2012 overall was $4 billion, a 12.8 percent increase from the previous year, with profits of $581 million and earnings per share of $0.94, which more than doubles 2011 numbers.

"I am pleased with our achievements last year. Our GPU business grew sharply. And, with the success of Tegra, we established our position in the mobile market," said Jen-Hsun Huang, president and chief executive officer of Nvidia. "We expect continued growth ahead, as Tegra 3 powers a new wave of quad-core super phones and Kepler, our next-generation GPU architecture, sets new standards in visual and parallel computing."

The company has high hopes for its Tegra 3 SoC in the mobile segment. Huang said that Tegra chips accounted for $360 million in revenues in fiscal 2012, and that the company expected sales to grow by "at least 50 percent" in the current year. Nvidia's Tegra 3 is currently shipping in the Asus Eee Transformer Prime, but so-called "superphones" equipped with the quad-core chip will arrive this quarter.

Nvidia will also continue pushing Tegra 2 for a more affordable iPhone 4 alternative, and is expecting the Ice Cream Sandwich variant of Android and Windows on ARM to help boost the Tegra business this year.

Regarding their next-generation Kepler GPU architecture, Huang only referred to production aspects saying TSCM is "doing fabulously" with the 28 nanometer ramp, and that yields are higher than they were with Fermi, but they are nonetheless not as good as the company was hoping. "We could use more wafers," Huang said. "Our expectation is that yields will improve, and as output increases, our costs will go down."

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