February 12, 2014 / 9:52 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 2-Gamers help Nvidia's fourth-quarter revenue beat Street

* PC gaming-related products boost 4th-quarter revenue

* Projects 1st-qtr rev of $1.05 bln, plus/minus 2 pct

* Shares up 3 pct after-hours

By Malathi Nayak and Noel Randewich

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Nvidia Corp on Wednesday posted higher fourth-quarter revenue that beat expectations, fueled by the graphics chipmaker’s PC gaming components, even as it grapples with an expansion beyond computers and into mobile devices.

With the personal computer industry losing steam, Nvidia has expanded its graphics chips into mobile devices. But it is meeting stiff competition from larger Qualcomm Inc and has responded by increasing its focus on automotive markets and other areas.

Nvidia’s results in the fourth quarter, which ended in January, reflected better-than-expected sales of high-end graphics chips popular with game enthusiasts, a niche that has suffered less than mainstream laptops from consumers’ growing preferences for tablets. The company’s revenue forecast for the first quarter was also above analysts’ expectations.

“The graphics market has been fairly resilient, even in the face of poor PC sales,” said Evercore analyst Patrick Wang. “Folks still buy graphics cards to play games.”

Nvidia has struggled to convince manufacturers to use its Tegra chips in tablets and smartphones. In the fourth quarter, revenue from Nvidia’s Tegra mobile chip business fell 37 percent while revenue from its PC graphics processor business rose 14 percent.

The company is increasingly marketing the Tegra line of chips as ideal for powering entertainment and navigation systems in cars. In January, Nvidia said it was broadening its relationship with Audi, which plans to use the upcoming Tegra K1 chip in more of its cars.

Nvidia said that during the quarter, it had lower sales of Tegra chips for smartphones and tablets while increasing its sales of Tegra chips for cars.

Overall fourth-quarter revenue rose to $1.14 billion, up 3 percent from the year-ago period. It said revenue in the first quarter would be $1.05 billion, plus or minus 2 percent.

Analysts on average had expected fourth-quarter revenue of $1.053 billion and first-quarter revenue of $1 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net income was $147 million, or 25 cents a share, in the fourth quarter ended on Jan. 26, compared with $174 million or 28 cents a share in the year-ago quarter. Non-GAAP earnings per share in the fourth quarter were 32 cents.

Nvidia shares were up 3 percent in extended trading on Wednesday after closing up 3.6 percent at $16.83 on the Nasdaq.

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