Chip stocks are in trouble. But analysts are giving some serious upside — naming one with over 70%

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Chip stocks got pummeled late last week after Micron warned of waning demand. The semiconductor firm put out a significantly weaker-than-expected business outlook, raising concerns that the once red-hot industry is headed for a downcycle, amid broader fears of an economic downturn. If that comes to pass, it would be a far cry from the big chip shortage last year that occurred as demand boomed amid the Covid-19 pandemic. That hurt production across a big range of industries, ranging from cars to consumer appliances, personal computers and smartphones. Globally, chip stocks are still down this week from a week ago, although they have pared some losses. Investors have largely fled this industry in 2022, with the VanEck Semiconductor ETF down about 37% year-to-date. Many analysts are predicting a downturn for the semiconductor industry, but some are still upbeat on certain firms. These are the names they think will be able to weather cooling demand. ‘Undervalued’ memory sector Though Japanese bank Nomura believes most semiconductor names should be avoided, it named some exceptions. Memory suppliers, in particular, are prioritizing profitability and stable earnings — and that may reduce operating profit volatility, the bank said in a June 30 report. Memory chips make up a sizeable component of Asia’s semiconductor industry. The bank said the memory sector is “relatively undervalued” and highlighted these buy-rated stocks: South Korean giants Samsung — the world’s biggest memory chipmaker — and SK Hynix. It also picked out Soulbrain, which produces chemicals used in the semiconductor industry. Nomura gave Samsung a price target of 84,000 Korean won ($64), representing 46% upside from its July 5 close of 57,200 Korean won. As for SK Hynix, the bank has a price target of 160,000 Korean won, representing upside of more than 70% from its July 5 close of 92,500 Korean won. U.S. semiconductors Deutsche Bank described U.S. semiconductor firm Broadcom as a “safe port” in the current “macro storm.” It rated Broadcom a buy, and gives the stock a price target of $700, which represents a potential upside of nearly 47%. “We believe Broadcom’s combination of infrastructure-heavy, mission-critical semiconductor and software products with relatively minimal consumer-oriented exposure as offering desirable stability in an environment of rising macro/semi sector volatility and an attractive investment for those that value long-term returns,” Deutsche Bank analyst Josh Ray said on July 1. It says the fundamental stability of the firm’s business, its attractive valuation of a price-to-earnings ratio of around 12x, and strong free cash flow yields make for “an attractive investment” for those looking for stability in uncertain times. Citi, in a July 5 note, named Analog Devices as its top pick amid its cautious outlook on semiconductors, given its defensive nature. The bank gave the firm a price target of $192, representing an upside of about 34%. ASML Bank of America and equity research firm Morningstar listed Dutch semiconductor equipment manufacturer ASML as one of their top picks in the industry. Bank of America believes the company will experience “superior growth” relative to its peers. It called ASML a “defensive name in uncertain times” and expects the company to raise its 2025-2030 guidance. “With TSMC , Intel , and Samsung all vying for process technology leadership, we expect ASML to be a primary beneficiary since it sells tools to all three chipmakers,” said Morningstar in a July 1 note. Shares of the company closed at around 409 euros on July 1, which implies a potential upside of 79% to Bank of America’s price target of 733 euros on the stock. A note of caution One analyst, however, warned investors that the semiconductor sector only “looks optically cheap.” “With the risk that consumer demand collapse is not in estimates, that we have a significant earnings downgrade cycle ahead, a sector that could continue to face cyclical risks and selling pressures, and a supply/demand dynamic which could unwind very quickly … we wouldn’t be trying to catch these falling chainsaws yet,” said Neil Campling, head of technology, media and telecom research at Mirabaud Equity Research. — CNBC’s Zavier Ong contributed to this report.

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