Tech Titans Surge in 2024: Is Nvidia Leading the New AI Gold Rush?



by FARUK IMAMOVIC

Tech Titans Surge in 2024: Is Nvidia Leading the New AI Gold Rush?
© Getty Images/Michael M. Santiago

Nvidia has emerged as a shining star in the early days of 2024. The chipmaking giant, already a trillion-dollar behemoth, has seen its shares skyrocket by 10% in just the first nine trading days of the year. This impressive ascent builds on the staggering 240% increase in its stock price in 2023, driven largely by the burgeoning AI market.

Early-Year Outperformance: Nvidia Leads the Pack

Nvidia, headquartered in Santa Clara, CA, has not only outperformed its Big Tech rivals but also surpassed the benchmark S&P 500 in the early stretch of 2024. This remarkable growth has catapulted Nvidia's market capitalization by an additional $128 billion, pushing its total value close to $1.4 trillion, as per Refinitiv's data.

This places Nvidia as the fifth most valuable company in the United States, trailing only behind tech giants like Microsoft, Apple, Google's Alphabet, and Amazon. Other members of the "Magnificent Seven" mega-cap stocks, which include Microsoft and Facebook's parent company Meta Platforms, have shown mixed results.

While these companies have posted modest gains, others like Apple and Tesla have faced declines, with Apple's shares falling by 3% due to slowing iPhone sales and Tesla experiencing a significant 12% drop. The broader market indices, the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100, have remained relatively stagnant, contrasting sharply with their significant gains in the previous year.

AI Consolidation: The Driving Force Behind Nvidia's Surge

The underlying factor propelling Nvidia's rapid growth is unmistakably its dominance in the AI sector. Nvidia's supremacy in the graphics processing unit market has significantly bolstered its earnings, contributing to its leap into the trillion-dollar valuation bracket in the previous year.

At the recent CES trade show in Las Vegas, Nvidia unveiled three new desktop graphics chips designed to power AI personal computers, signaling further expansion into AI monetization. This announcement sparked a three-day surge in Nvidia's shares, jumping 11%.

Kathleen Brooks, the research director at the online brokerage firm XTB, commented to Business Insider, "Nvidia moving beyond data centers into the AI PC space is just proof of how big of a theme AI is. Monetizing PCs can send companies stratospheric." Wall Street analysts concur, predicting Nvidia shares to continue their upward trajectory.

According to TipRanks, the consensus forecast suggests Nvidia's stock could reach $662 in 12 months, a 21% increase from its current trading level.

Nvidia© Getty Images/Justin Sullivan

Dot-com Comparisons: A Different Market Landscape

The AI-induced market surge draws parallels to the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s.

However, a closer examination reveals significant differences in the current market scenario. The "Magnificent Seven" – consisting of leading tech companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Google's Alphabet, Amazon, Nvidia, Meta Platforms, and Tesla – were at the forefront of the AI rally.

This surge in technology stocks is reminiscent of the late 1990s internet hype. Between 1995 and 2000, the rise of the internet led to a meteoric rise in US tech stocks, culminating in a market crash that erased these gains.

This historical parallel, however, might not be entirely appropriate. Bank of America's Michael Hartnett and UBS's Art Cashin warned of an AI-driven "baby bubble," likening it to a mini version of the dot-com era. Rebellion Research even compared Nvidia's meteoric rise to the 17th-century Dutch tulip mania.

Despite these cautions, the valuation metrics paint a different picture. The price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio, a key tool for assessing stock value, offers a contrasting perspective. The Nasdaq 100 index, heavily influenced by tech stocks, currently has a P/E ratio of about 32.5x, a stark contrast to the 80.1x ratio at the peak of the dot-com boom.

This suggests a more grounded valuation of today's tech giants compared to their predecessors at the turn of the century. Mark Casey, an equity portfolio manager at Capital Group, emphasizes this point: "In 2000, companies were overvalued to a much greater degree than the market leaders are now." This sentiment is echoed by Wall Street's top analysts in their 2024 outlooks, with predictions of further growth in the AI-driven tech sector.

Kathleen Brooks of XTB remains optimistic about AI's role in the market: "AI will carry on being a dominant theme in 2024 – we're kind of only scratching the surface of it at the moment. If you're selecting stocks at all, you want to be selecting these ones."

The AI Era: A New Dawn for Tech Giants

The rise of artificial intelligence is not just a fleeting trend but a paradigm shift in technology and investment.

Unlike the dot-com bubble, which was marked by rampant speculation and unsustainable growth, the current AI boom is grounded in tangible advancements and practical applications. Nvidia's foray into AI personal computers is a testament to the evolving landscape, where AI is not just an abstract concept but a driving force for innovation and profitability.

The tech giants of today, backed by substantial earnings and robust market positions, are forging a path that diverges significantly from the speculative frenzy of the late 1990s. Nvidia's impressive start to 2024 is a clear indicator of the transformative impact of AI on the tech industry.

As the company charts new territories and continues to dominate the GPU market, its growth trajectory serves as a bellwether for the broader tech sector. With a more rational market valuation and the practical applicability of AI, the current tech surge seems poised for a more sustainable and impactful journey than its dot-com predecessor.