An amended class action complaint filed against Nvidia Corp has accused the firm of violating the Securities Exchange Act by downplaying the extent to which its gaming revenues relied on GPU sales to cryptocurrency miners.
The complaint, filed May 14, claims that Nvidia issued deliberately misleading statements that understated more than $1 billion in GPU sales relating to crypto miners during 2017 and 2018. Claims estimate that sales to miners represented over half of the company’s total sales.
Nvidia was hit with a spate of lawsuits from investors after its stock price crashed nearly 30% after announcing that revenues would fall 7% during late 2018.
Nvidia accused of misrepresenting $1b in sales
The amended complaint asserts that the firm deceived “the market into believing that Nvidia’s dependence on cryptocurrency-related revenues was small” while falsely claiming “quarter after quarter, that the gaming segment’s sales growth resulted from strong organic demand from gamers.”
The filing cites a study that estimated Nvidia’s misrepresentations obscured $1.126 billion in sales to miners, however, notes that a separate report by RBC Capital Markets concluded $1.35 billion in sales had been obfuscated by the firm.
2017 drives surging demand for GPUs
During 2017, Nvidia’s GeForce GPU became favored among cryptocurrency miners, driving enormous profits for the firm’s gaming division.
In May 2017, Nvidia also launched a chip specifically engineered for cryptocurrency mining, the Crypto SKU — for which sales would be recorded under a catch-all business segment. However, the Crypto SKU failed to catch on, with many miners continuing to purchase GeForce GPUs instead.
The plaintiffs argue that despite the surge in demand from crypto miners driving sales for GeForce units, Nvidia attributed the demand to gamers as its revenues contributed to the firm’s gaming division.
Crypto SKU sales underrepresented demand from miners
Investors also claim that Nvidia’s also asserted that its crypto revenues were small based on the floundering performance of its Crypto SKU — misleading the market as to its reliance on sales to crypto markets.
"Defendants refused to publicly acknowledge that NVIDIA's proliferating sales were the result of fickle cryptocurrency miners, lest investors discount the Company's stock to reflect the volatility of crypto-related demand," the complaint reads.
Instead, Defendants opted for a strategy that would capitalize on miners' fervent demand for GeForce GPUs while falsely telling investors that the spike in GeForce sales came from gamers, not miners, and making it appear that NVIDIA's core Gaming business was immune from the volatility of the cryptocurrency markets.
The amended filing follows California federal judge Haywood Gilliam’s downsizing of the case in March.
While Judge Gilliam found that the investors had failed to demonstrate that Nvidia knowingly issued false statements, he found the plaintiff’s assertions to properly link the 30% drop in share price to Nvidia’s partial corrective disclosures.