“Nothing ventured, nothing gained” is clearly the current mantra at Intel (NASDAQ:INTC). As you may have heard, the chip maker is making a big gamble on chip foundries. Those bullish on INTC stock believe this will supercharge the company’s earnings in the coming years.
Taking calculated risks is a smart move for maximizing shareholder value. However, it’s questionable whether management is leaving investors better positioned to profit, or worse off than before.
Admittedly, it’s not as if INTC shareholders were in a great place to start with. For years, the company was losing ground to rivals. A downturn in a key market also caused the need to take sweeping action.
Yet whereas before, this stock was a high-yielder with middling price appreciation prospects, it has since become a low-yielder, with rising downside risk, and questionable upside potential.
INTC Stock: From Floundering to Sinking
To say Intel has fumbled the ball in recent years is an understatement. Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) has grabbed a lot of market share from the company in areas like data center CPUs.
While Intel’s CEO, Pat Gelsinger, is confident market share losses will stabilize this year, critics will tell you that’s far from certain.
But while the chip maker’s massive mistakes ultimately put INTC stock on an extended downward trajectory, it took some time for shares to go from merely floundering to full-on sinking.
First, the pandemic-era boom in PC chip demand provided the company (and the stock) some support.
Second, when signs initially emerged that the pandemic boom was morphing into a post-pandemic chip glut, INTC’s once-juicy dividend helped to soften the blow.
The growth of its annual payouts from $1.32 to $1.46 per share between 2020 and 2022 attracted investors, all seeking to “get paid while they waited” for Intel’s operating performance to arrive.
Unfortunately, instead of getting a bargain, these bottom-fishers in hindsight realized all they did was catch a falling knife. Shares really tumbled in late 2022, when it became clear this blue-chip was turning into a high-risk play.
Going for Broke With the Chip Foundry Gamble
Sure, it sounds strange to treat INTC stock like it’s a speculative play. However, that is what it has become. For starters, the strategy change Intel is implementing isn’t your boilerplate “turnaround.”
Rather, it’s a high-stakes transformation. As I’ve discussed previously, the company is cutting some big checks, in order to build new chip foundries in Germany, Israel, and elsewhere.
Intel is also working on building a chip fabrication campus in the U.S. State of Ohio. The company could end up investing as much as $100 billion into this Ohio project.
Although government subsidies will cover some of it, Intel is borrowing heavily, and dedicating much of this cash flow towards this effort as well.
That brings us to the other element that makes INTC less blue-chip, more speculative: INTC’s decision to slash its dividend by 66% earlier this year.
This leaves positive returns for INTC highly dependent on this “go for broke” chip foundry effort paying off.
Yet unlike other speculative names, which are trying to grab a piece of a fast growing, lucrative market, Intel is instead chasing dubious opportunities in a capital-intensive, highly-saturated market.
Avoid, as this Big Bet Could Come Up Snake Eyes
It’s tough to argue today that INTC is a turnaround play of the “get paid while you wait” variety. After the sharp dividend cut, shares now have a paltry forward yield of only 1.45%.
Worse yet, it’s not as if this low payout is made up for by greater upside. Again, it is very questionable that building a global chip foundry empire from scratch will produce the intended results.
The company may have been better off deciding to build out foundry capacity on a smaller scale, if its main aim was to prevent past production bottlenecks from reoccurring.
Prioritizing bringing its AI chips to market sooner than 2025 would’ve been a wiser move as well.
Those bullish on INTC stock are free to place their bets, but I’m betting that this foundry gamble will ultimately come up snake eyes.
INTC stock earns a D rating in Portfolio Grader.
On the date of publication, neither Louis Navellier nor the InvestorPlace Research Staff member primarily responsible for this article held (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article.