Analyzing Marvell Technology's Position in the AI Semiconductor Market

Published March 18, 2024

Marvell Technology, a seasoned player in the artificial intelligence (AI) semiconductor industry, has faced challenges keeping pace with the broader chip sector. Investors, including those holding shares for extended periods, have witnessed the stock underperform when compared to industry benchmarks such as the iShares Semiconductor ETF and the VanEck Semiconductor ETF across three-, five-, and ten-year spans.

Restructuring Under New Leadership

Since Matthew Murphy took the helm as CEO in 2016, shifting from Maxim Integrated (now part of Analog Devices), Marvell has worked to reposition itself within the burgeoning data center AI market. This strategic realignment involved making critical acquisitions from 2020 to 2022, laying the groundwork for the company as it begins to capitalize on the AI boom.

Marvell's Focus on AI Chips

Under Murphy's direction, Marvell has made significant strides toward a focus on data centers, particularly with AI training chips. High-profile associations, like their accelerated computing system design partnership with Nvidia and their rivalry with industry behemoth Broadcom, have brought investor attention. Despite this, Marvell’s most recent financial disclosures presented a mixed set of results, posing the question of whether the firm's AI trajectory will be transformative or if investors should consider divesting.

The latter financial quarter of fiscal 2024 reports that data center operations, which house AI chip sales, contributed to more than half of Marvell's revenue. The CEO announced over $200 million in AI chip revenue, hinting at a positive outlook for continued growth in the coming fiscal year. However, challenges persist as other business segments not associated with data centers, which comprise the other half of the business, are still experiencing difficulties.

Fiscal Performances by Segment

Revenue segments within the company show varying degrees of success. Data center revenue enjoyed a 54% rise, yet other sectors such as enterprise, mobile carriers, and consumer markets saw significant declines. Despite these strains, the company expects its non-data center markets to regain some stability and grow sequentially in the second half of 2024.

Plans for Recovery and Growth

Marvell's board has greenlighted a $3 billion stock repurchase scheme, an optimistic sign coupled with the company reporting a substantial 58% increase in year-over-year free cash flow in the latest quarter. As sales of its newly developed AI chips pick up, there's potential for Marvell to experience a turnaround.

Trading at a premium, with a trailing-12-month free cash flow multiple of 56, Marvell still isn’t considered a bargain investment. Nonetheless, the anticipated growth in the ongoing year might make holding onto shares an appealing prospect for those interested in witnessing how this AI development cycle unfolds.

semiconductor, AI, investment