A new year with new opportunities

AMD Headquarters

AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su admitted that 2015 proved a “challenging” year from a financial standpoint, but found reasons to be optimistic for the company’s future. One of those reasons is Polaris. We’ll talk more about Polaris in a moment, but first a look at how AMD performed in Q4.

The Sunnyvale chip designer reported revenue of $958 million for the quarter, down 10 percent sequentially and 23-percent year-over-year. That led to an operating loss of $49 million and a net loss of $102 million, or $0.13 per share.

One of the positives for AMD is that its losses, while significant, are shrinking. In the same quarter a year ago, AMD posted a loss of $364 million, which it was able to reduce to $197 million in the third quarter of 2015. That’s not exactly cause to pop open a bottle of bubbly, but at the pace AMD is going, it could be profitable by the end of the 2016.

“AMD closed 2015 with solid execution fueled by the second straight quarter of double-digit percentage revenue growth in our Computing and Graphics segment and record annual semi-custom unit shipments,” said Dr. Su. “While 2015 was challenging from a financial perspective, key R&D investments and a sharpened focus on innovation position us well to deliver great products, improved financial results and share gains in 2016.”

AMD’s loss in the fourth quarter might have dipped below $100 million if it hadn’t been for a drop in game console royalties. That alone accounted for a 15 percent drop in revenue for the quarter, as AMD provides processors to all three major game consoles—Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Wii U.

Looking ahead, AMD is again betting big on graphics. Industry veteran Roja Koduri has been heading AMD’s recently formed Radeon Technologies Group, which has already made noise by ditching AMD’s Catalyst Control Center in favor of a new driver architecture called Radeon Software, the first release of which is called Crimson Edition.

On the hardware side of things, AMD has been previewing its forthcoming 14nm FinFET Polaris GPU architecture. The hype is high for Polaris with AMD claiming a two-fold bump in performance-per-watt. There will be two versions in 2016—one that’s aimed at thin and light systems, which seems to be the primary focus, and another that will compete in the high-end segment with Nvidia. You can read more about Polaris here.

Investors aren’t as optimistic. Since releasing its fourth quarter results, AMD’s stock price has fallen nearly 8 percent to $1.79 per share (at the time of this writing).

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