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Micron Technology, Inc. (MU): What Makes Morgan Stanley Optimistic About This AI Hardware Stock?

We recently compiled a list of the 15 Best Hardware Stocks According to Hedge Funds. In this article, we are going to take a look at where Micron Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:MU) stands against the other hardware stocks.

With the first half of 2024 nearly over, artificial intelligence continues to play a dominant role in the stock market. Stocks that either design semiconductors that are used for AI applications, or those that use them to either streamline their internal operations such as coding or offer products to customers have also made significant gains. These show the optimism in Wall Street for accelerated computing technologies, which are collectively called artificial intelligence.

In fact, the impact of AI has been so strong that not only has it upended the status quo of the most valuable firms in terms of market capitalization, but it also allowed some of the top AI companies to post triple digit percentage share price returns over the course of the past twelve months. Some of the top performing AI stocks are up by 213% over the past twelve months and have appreciated by 773% since November 2022. Back then, the stock market was whimpering in the aftermath of rapid interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, which had hit technology stocks particularly hard since they benefit from a fast growth and low rate environment.

However, AI's impact on the stock market has fueled the triple digit percentage gains in some stocks since then. At the same time, it has also meant that major indexes continue to demonstrate robust performance that is fueled by the share price performance of mega cap technology stocks.

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In 2024, the market has moved forward from investing in AI companies that can change the world with their hardware or software to evaluating whether these firms are delivering. The first quarter of the 2024 earnings season was the clearest example of this phenomenon, and it saw Wall Street take an unforgiving approach to large and small firms that presented even the slightest hint of being unable to either grow their revenues by targeting AI or control the costs of investing in the new technologies.

Within the AI industry, there are different categories of firms. Most of these, such as OpenAI, operate on the software side. This industry subsegment develops applications such as chat bots and other assistants along with expanding the use of AI to existing software such as image editing tools. AI hardware companies power these applications, and when compared to the software firms, not only do they command stable valuations, but they also see investors take comfort in the fact that the demand for their products is far more stable and predictable when compared to software demand. Recently Goldman Sachs published a bullish report on hardware stocks due to AI, which we covered in 15 Best Hardware Stocks According To Goldman. In this article we are going to approach the same theme from a different angle and there are vast differences between both rankings of hardware stocks.

Our Methodology

To make our list of the top hedge fund hardware stock picks, we ranked personal computing, semiconductor, and computer hardware by the number of hedge funds that had bought the shares in Q1 2024. Out of these, the stocks with the highest number of hedge fund investors were selected. Basically our article listed the best hardware stocks to buy according to the 900+ equity hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey. Why do we care about what hedge funds do? The reason is simple: our research has shown that we can outperform the market by imitating the top stock picks of the best hedge funds. Our quarterly newsletter’s strategy selects 14 small-cap and large-cap stocks every quarter and has returned 275% since May 2014, beating its benchmark by 150 percentage points (see more details here).

A close-up view of a computer motherboard with integrated semiconductor chips.

Micron Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:MU)

Number of Hedge Fund Shareholders In Q1 2024: 115

Micron Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:MU) is a chip designer that makes and sells memory products. These chips work along with GPUs to process and power AI workloads. Another highly rated AI stock, the average of 30 one year analyst share price targets for Micron Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:MU) is $145.05 and the shares are rated Strong Buy on average. Morgan Stanley was out with some good news for Micron Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:MU)'s investors in May 2024 when it raised the share rating to Equalweight from Underweight and increased the share price target to $130 from $98. At the heart of this upgrade are advanced HBM memory products, and Morgan Stanley believes Micron Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:MU) can benefit from a HBM ramp up for AI.

As of Q1 2024 end, 115 hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey were Micron Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:MU) 's stakeholders. Rajiv Jain's GQG Partners owned the most valuable stake that was worth $533 million.

While Morgan Stanley is optimistic for Micron Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:MU), the AI hardware stock's forward P/E ratio of 18.45, which is lower than the market's 21, suggests that it might grow more slowly than the broader index. Sequoia Fund commented on the firm in its Q4 2023 investor letter and shared:

As discussed in our Q2 shareholder letter, we exited Micron after the rationale for our investment was strained by rising geopolitical tensions, which have increased investment risks in the high-performance semiconductor industry. These risks are bearable, but we felt it prudent to reduce the portfolio’s exposure to them. We think both Bank of America and Micron were purchased at conservative prices given the facts at hand, but the facts changed and we moved on.

Overall MU ranks 6th on our list of the best hardware stocks to buy. You can visit 15 Best Hardware Stocks According to Hedge Funds to see the other hardware stocks that are on hedge funds’ radar. While we acknowledge the potential of MU as an investment, our conviction lies in the belief that AI stocks hold greater promise for delivering higher returns, and doing so within a shorter timeframe. If you are looking for an AI stock that is more promising than MU but that trades at less than 5 times its earnings, check out our report about the cheapest AI stock.

 

READ NEXT: Analyst Sees a New $25 Billion "Opportunity" for NVIDIA and Jim Cramer is Recommending These 10 Stocks in June.

 

Disclosure: None. This article is originally published at Insider Monkey.