Nvidia and Intel are safe from China's tariffs on US semiconductors, Cowen says

  • Nvidia and Intel are sheltered from China’s retaliatory tariffs on semiconductor chips, according to Cowen analyst Matthew Ramsay.
  • Even though US chipmakers have strong exposure to the Chinese market, Chinese chipmakers aren’t yet competitive.
  • China relies heavily on US chipmakers for its supply.
  • Watch Nvidia and Intel trade in real time here.

President Donald Trump’s trade spat with foreign partners has financial markets scrambling to parse through which industries will get hit the hardest, and which will emerge relatively unscathed.

On June 15, when China announced tariffs on $US50 billion of US goods, a number of US semiconductors were on the list.

But US chipmakers, namely Nvidia and Intel, are sheltered from harm, according to Cowen analyst Matthew Ramsay. “We view business risks as much less in our universe with memory and semiconductor capital equipment,” he wrote in a note out to clients.

He added, “The vast majority of semiconductor suppliers have between 15-30% China end-market exposure including bellwethers Qualcomm,Intel,Nvidia and Broadcom.” Still, those chipmakers aren’t exposed to any real risk because Chinese chip buyers have few alternatives.

In fact, Ramsay thinks “a full non-compromised trade war between the U.S. and China would irreparably damage global competitiveness for several important Chinese tech giants.”

China has been investing in semiconductors to make its own chipmakers more competitive, but for now, those companies are relatively small, and the country still relies heavily on importing US semiconductors.

Screen Shot 2018 07 13 at 9.21.22 AMMarket Realist, Tsinghua University

And China imports more than $US200 billion of US semis a year, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.

“Given our belief that China is still multiple years away from competitive n-node digital silicon manufacturing versus Intel, TSMC, Samsung and Global Foundries, we have little concern China has access to alternative supply for most components supplied by companies in our coverage universe,” Ramsay added.

Nvidia and Intel both down just over 5% since China’s tariff announcement on June 15.

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