Semiconductor, PC stocks rally after Biden touts importance of U.S. chip manufacturing

Chip-related stocks and shares of computer makers surged Wednesday following a push by President Joe Biden to pass legislation that would result in more than $50 billion in government subsidies to build out U.S. chip-making capacity.

In Biden’s State of the Union speech late Tuesday, the president pushed Congress to send bipartisan legislation to his desk that would include more than $50 billion in subsidies to chip makers but billions more to other industries to build out U.S. manufacturing capacity. The Senate passed its version of the legislation in June, while the House passed its version in early February by a narrow margin; negotiators are now attempting to reconcile the two versions of the legislation.

In his speech, Biden referenced Intel Corp.’s
INTC,
4.38%

planned “mega site” fab complex in Ohio, where Intel has pledged to invest more than $20 billion. Intel has also pledged $20 billion for sites in Arizona. Intel is also expanding capacity in the manufacture of lower-tech microchips with its $5.4 billion deal to buy Tower Semiconductor Ltd.
TSEM,
0.73%
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which not only has fabs in Migdal Haemek, Israel and Agrate, Italy, but in Newport Beach, Calif.; and San Antonio, Texas. Intel pledged up to $28 billion in capital spending for 2022 in October.

U.S. chip manufacturing capacity is especially important, not only because of an ongoing chip supply shortage but because of the industry’s high dependence on companies like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.
TSM,
1.44%

and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co.
005930,
1.67%

Intel Chief Executive Pat Gelsinger was a guest of First Lady Jill Biden. 

Read: Biden’s tech pitch seeks billions for chip manufacturing, online protection for kids

“Intel’s CEO, Pat Gelsinger, who is here tonight, told me they are ready to increase their investment from $20 billion to $100 billion,” Biden said in his speech.

“That would be one of the biggest investments in manufacturing in American history,” Biden told Congress. “And all they’re waiting for is for you to pass this bill.” 

On Intel’s last earnings call, Gelsinger said that if Congress passed the legislation, it would be “an accelerant for our investment plans” and “we’re going to build [the Ohio site ] out faster as a result and we think that’s good for our company.”

Read: Chips may be sold out for 2022 thanks to shortage, but investors are worried about the end of the party

The PHLX Semiconductor Index 
SOX,
3.37%

closed up 3.4% Wednesday, compared with near 2% gains in the S&P 500 index
SPX,
1.86%

and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP,
1.62%
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while Intel shares finished up 4.4%. The SOX chip index, however, is still in correction territory, down 10.7% from its record close set on Dec. 27, having briefly ventured into bear market territory at the end of January.

Other chip makers joined in the rally, such as Micron Technology Inc.
MU,
8.16%
,
which like Intel, has its own fabs and does not have to depend on third-party fabs like TSMC and Samsung. For that reason, Micron also stands to benefit from subsidies, and shares led the sector higher surging 8.2%. Micron is scheduled to report earnings on March 29. Shares of U.S. based third-party fab GlobalFoundries Inc. GFS finished up 2.4%.

Read: Semiconductor sales top half a trillion dollars for the first time, and are expected to keep growing

Other chip makers outperforming the SOX included Advanced Micro Devices Inc. 
AMD,
3.91%
,
Qualcomm Inc.
QCOM,
3.83%
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and Marvell Technology Inc.
MRVL,
4.19%
.
Shares of Nvidia Corp.
NVDA,
3.18%
,
the largest U.S. chip maker by market cap, and Broadcom Inc.
AVGO,
2.75%

lagged the index and closed down 3.2% and 2.8%, respectively.

PC makers, which stand to benefit from added capacity given the nearly two-year long chip shortage brought on by COVID-19, also rallied with Dell Technologies Inc.
DELL,
7.46%

closing up 7.5% and HP Inc.
HPQ,
6.57%

shares finishing 6.6% higher.

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