Investing Unscripted Podcast 105: Semiconductors, AI, and the Future of Mankind

Not so much the last bit. But sorta.

Note: All transcripts are edited for clarity. We may earn commissions from some (not all) links. Thanks for the scratch.

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Jason Hall: Hey friends, welcome back to Investing Unscripted where we ask and answer the hard questions about investing. I'm Jason Hall, the voice of the aristocracy with my good friend, Jeff Santoro, the voice of the people. Hey Jeff. Hey, how are you? I'm, I'm wonderful. And I know I say I'm excited about every episode because I'm kind of a golden retriever.

I'm always excited about doing things. But this one in particular is going to be a lot of fun because we have some really smart people that can actually give good answers about some hard questions about a big, important industry that affects every single one of us in our daily lives in ways that we know we don't know.

Jeff Santoro: Yeah. I always enjoy having guests on because it definitely brings the intelligence level up on the podcast and overcomes what you bring to it. Before we introduce our guests, let's, let's do some, yeah, we'll let them stand. 

Jason Hall: They can stay in the green room a little bit longer. We'll do some quick housekeeping.

Yeah. [00:02:00] Yeah. We've got some really, really good Manhattans in there. Yes. 

Jeff Santoro: Our green room is top notch. 

Jason Hall: It's the best. It's the best. It's the best. 

Jeff Santoro: It's got neon, nice neon signs in the background of our green room. Yeah, it's great. 

Jason Hall: Before we bring them out, though, yeah, like you said, we've got a little bit of housekeeping to do.

Jeff Santoro: So, Just a reminder to everyone, we are slowly collecting a bunch of questions for our next mailbag. We've received a handful over the last week or two. So if you guys have anything you want us to talk about on our next mailbag sometime in June, just go ahead and send them to us any way you want, anytime you want.

We keep them and archive them and use them to make that show. And just a reminder, our newest initiative is our portfolio on the link for that is in the show notes. You can check that out. And as always, ratings and reviews of the podcast are appreciated. All right. Anything I missed, Jason?

Jason Hall: Yeah. Get on it. Apple podcast users. You can do it. 

Jeff Santoro: Are we still shaming the Apple podcast losers? Whoa. I said losers. Wow. That's a Freudian slip. Wow. Wow. 

Jason Hall: We are not editing that out.

Jeff Santoro: No, [00:03:00] leave that in. That was great. 

Jason Hall: For the record, Jeff and I both, we are Apple podcast users. So I just want to, we're, we're included in that.

That's important. All right. We have made our guests wait long enough. We have Nick Rossolillo and Kasey Rossolillo of Chip Stock Investor . Nick, we'll start with you. I'll welcome you first. Hey, Nick. How are you? 

Nick Rossolillo: Hey, good. Good guys. 

Jason Hall: Good. It's really good to have you back on the show. You've been on before. 

Nick Rossolillo: Well, you, you've allowed me to come back on one condition and that's that I didn't come alone.

Jason Hall: Right, right, again, we're talking about increasing the IQ of the room. So we have Kasey with you. Kasey, welcome. So good to have you on. 

Kasey Rossolillo: Thank you very much. I'm excited. 

Jason Hall: Yeah, so are we. This is going to be a fun conversation. So again, Chip Stock Investor find the YouTube channel. It is well worth it.

Great content. I also want to say this. So I don't want to pigeonhole you guys, that's kind of like the foundation of the things that you talk about. There's more, it's more holistic than just that. A lot of other great content about investing [00:04:00] broadly. Where I want to start Nick, a lot of folks know you, but I would, I think it's a good opportunity for really, for both of you to talk about your backgrounds, what you do with Chip Stock Investor and how you kind of came to investing.

So Nick, go first, give a kind of a brief summary since we do know you, but not everybody. And then, uh, Kasey, let's hear from you. 

Nick Rossolillo: Yeah, we used to hang out more often, uh, Jason and Jeff, but, uh, yeah, it's Chip Stock Investor. Basically what we do is we talk about chip stocks. And then everything else that's not chip stocks we listen to Investing Unscripted, rip it off and redo it. So. 

Jason Hall: Perfect. 

Nick Rossolillo: That's the premise of our... 

Jeff Santoro: there's really only two, two sources of information you need. And it's our two endeavors. Absolutely. 

Nick Rossolillo: That's true. Exactly. 

Jason Hall: Nick, I think one thing I want to mention about you, about your background, I didn't realize I knew that you were an registered investment advisor, you have your own practice.

I didn't realize you've been doing that for a decade. I wanted to mention that. Deeply experienced. And yet spend time in the industry [00:05:00] before that, but you're, you're deeply experienced as an investor for managing your own money, but also helping other people make better investing decisions.

Nick Rossolillo: Deeply experienced. Homing in very quickly on Warren Buffett's extensive resume in the industry. 

Jason Hall: Yeah. Yeah. Definitely wanted to. Roughly six decades away. 

Nick Rossolillo: Every year the gap gets percentage wise anyways, a little bit narrower. Yeah. 

Jason Hall: Yeah. 

Nick Rossolillo: That's what I'm hanging my 

Jason Hall: career on. 

Love it. That's good. That's good.

Kasey, let's, uh, let's talk about how you, uh, came to, uh, investing and came to this party. 

Kasey Rossolillo: Yeah. My investing journey started all the way back in third grade, so I hope this is a really long episode. I hope you have time for all of this. 

Jason Hall: I want to hear all the years in between. 

Jeff Santoro: Yeah. Every year. Go ahead. 

Kasey Rossolillo: All right. It's long. No. Honestly that's the first time I learned about stocks. We were tasked as a students to pick a couple of companies that we wanted to follow. And so I picked two of my favorite companies at that time. It was Cadbury Schweppes, and [00:06:00] Campbell Soup. So I don't know how those stocks have gone.

Jason Hall: It's funny you mentioned that because Jeff, we talked about it a couple of times recently, how at some point in elementary or middle school or maybe high school, there's An economics class or a math class or something where some teacher does that, right?

And for a lot of people, that's it. That's like, that's your exposure to individual stocks until you're a grown up and you find out about a 401k, right? But every once in a while, there's somebody that maybe it kind of ignites like some sort of interest in that grows over time. 

Kasey Rossolillo: Honestly, like third grade was probably the last time I thought about stocks until I met Nick. 

Jason Hall: So you meet Nick along the way. You have a professional life outside of investing. And but now you spent a lot of time on camera with Nick talking about, about chip stocks. Let's talk about how you're like, I'm curious, like your experience outside of the investing world. How do you think that's informed the way you think about investing today?

Kasey Rossolillo: Well, I honestly, I really didn't think a ton about it. I, like you said, with, [00:07:00] I brought home the 401k paperwork. I gave it to Nick, he took care of it and I didn't worry about it. But when he started going back to investing, that's when I started taking at least some interest in. In learning about where our money was actually being saved.

And then kind of fast forward to a few years ago, after the pandemic, we just basically wanted to hit a hard reset button. We decided that we would do this together. And so that's how I started this process of learning about stocks and specifically the semiconductor industry, because that's what Nick identified as a secular growth trend at the time. And so we just really started homing in on that and it's, yeah, the rest is history. Now I edit video and try to learn as much as I possibly can about this. 

Jason Hall: Yeah. That learning. As much as you possibly can is so central to everybody's investing journey.

And anybody that presents themselves as the expert that knows everything, uh, and always will have the right answer is lying to themselves and lying to [00:08:00] you and probably trying to sell you something along the way. So that humility is super duper valuable, Jeff. 

Jeff Santoro: Yeah, I was, I just think it's really interesting that you guys, you know, found a way to do this together.

I laughed on the inside as you were talking because I don't even think my wife knows where I am right now. So the fact that you guys do this together, I think is, is great. You know, we, but I say that kiddingly, but you know, Jason, I talk about this a lot. I think in, in, I would guess in most households, if there is someone who's interested in investing, It's usually just one person and the other person is the polar opposite.

I know that's our existence here. 

Jason Hall: And they're deeply, deeply lonely. 

Jeff Santoro: This is why I need Jason in my life. All right. So let's dive in a little bit here. I think Nick, when you were on our show before, I, I think one of the most valuable aspects of that conversation was, Just sort of giving us a deep dive into what is in the semiconductor industry, because there's so many different facets of it.

So I don't want to rehash that. People can go back and check out that episode. But I am curious for [00:09:00] both of you to give your take on kind of the current state of semiconductors. Because when we did have that conversation, it was before all of the AI, NVIDIA going up 200 percent every quarter kind of craziness.

And now it seems like. Everything's really out in the forefront, much different vibe than it was when we had that last conversation. So give us like a 30,000 foot overview of where you see the semiconductor industry right now.

Nick Rossolillo: Yeah I think one thing that's interesting reflecting on this, when I was on the show last, I think the question was, what Why should we care? And now it's, yeah, I want to invest in these things. So that's interesting. It's an interesting pivot that's been made. You know, I think one thing maybe Kasey has a a chart, a table put together that helps illustrate this. And I don't know if we can, can we share a screen on this? maybe I'll look for that. But a lot of the industry is [00:10:00] still kind of reeling from effects of. 2020, 2021, when supply chains got locked down to manufacturing industry. So like supply chain disruptions were a serious deal. Chip shortage happened as a result.

They're playing catch up in 2022 to meet demand. And then suddenly like demand falls off a cliff in consumer electronics. And then this year or in more recently, six months or so, industrial markets kind of stopped, especially automotive, the EV market has slowed down. And so we're kind of in this trough. 

You know, removing NVIDIA, of course, from the equation, we're in this trough for the industry, but it's in a healthy place. A lot of companies are very profitable. They've been through these cycles before. And the second half of 2024, it seems like a lot of these supply chains are starting to realign to like a more normal level, if you can say that. And it seems like the [00:11:00] whole industry has been saying during earning season for two quarters now, the second half of 2024 is like the beginning of the new growth cycle for semiconductors.

Again, X NVIDIA, because they're, you know, I don't even know what you call it. Unique. 

Jason Hall: Yeah. 

Nick Rossolillo: That's an understatement. 

Jason Hall: I want to have some kind of broad observations that tie into what you're talking about. I want to kind of walk through to maybe paint a bigger picture for some people. So you talk about the cyclicality of the industry, because again, it is a manufacturing business.

Every manufacturer deals with cyclicality. But you also have this high tech layer over the top of it that is constantly innovating and iterating the next new thing. That's also very deflationary in terms of the cost per unit of, of compute. So you, you have that on top of the cyclicality that kind of makes it hyper cyclical in a way, right? [00:12:00] Historically, that's what we've seen. 

And then the fact that there are so many different end markets. The PC market has been very low growth for a decade, I guess at this point. The smartphone market was very high growth for a lot of that and is becoming very mature. I'm trying to say that right now, people, cause I've been shamed about my pronunciation of the word mature.

The industrial demand we've seen more. Internet of things, machine to machine stuff is like, that's a big secular tailwind, but there's still, like I said, the cyclical impacts within that. So you have all of these, it's like the ocean, right? Where the tides move and the storms come in and out, but the tide is still rising, right?

In a good way, unlike global warming, right? So all of those things are happening at the same time. And it feels like one of the things that's made this cyclical downturn a little different. You mentioned the profitability of the industry broadly. Even though we've seen a lot of the manufacturers like [00:13:00] they're certainly not getting operating leverage because their production levels are down.

It feels like we had less inventory buildup before the downturn because they were still working so hard to sell through, they didn't end up with a lot of excess inventory broadly. I know that's a broad statement. That's not accurate everywhere. But is that is that fair to say like Even though it's a downturn the industry kind of came into it in a better position and less like rug pulled?

Nick Rossolillo: Maybe I so I have it. I have it now if you want me to share. 

Jason Hall: Please share it. So anybody watching on YouTube or you're watching this on Spotify video, you'll see it on screen. Everybody else remember go to InvestingUnscripted.Com for the newsletter and the transcript. We'll have the link for this and I'll put the image in the transcript too, so you'll be able to see it there.

Nick Rossolillo: Yeah, I think you're right, Jason. Absolutely. It, it it's cyclical, but it's high tech, really high tech. To say the least, these are the most complex things manufactured on the planet. A simple power chip is ridiculously complicated. Then you start [00:14:00] talking about AI systems and millions of components and the engineering involved with that they're in good shape for a lot of different reasons.

This would have been an epically bad downturn from say, the second half of 2022 through 2023, except there's this brand new AI infrastructure market, which I think we're gonna discuss. More about momentarily. NVIDIA, obviously gobbling up most of that, but it has had a trickle down effect on a lot of these other industries where the downturn would have been worse. 

For example, like industrial chips there at the bottom, the last line, there's a lot of overlap between, ,a piece of manufacturing equipment that has automation in it and a data center, like both pieces of equipment need a lot of energy, a lot of power. They draw a lot of power. And so you're going to have like some overlap there. So a lot of these companies, maybe, you know, the downturn would have been horrific. This last year and a [00:15:00] half maybe industrial equipment was down for them, but many of them were able to kind of pivot and say, Hey, you know what? Maybe we can sell some of these same power chips. To this, to the silly little company called NVIDIA over here. Maybe they need our parts.

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So one of the things we talked about last time we had you on, Nick, was whether or not the semiconductor industry might be less cyclical in the future. And it sounds like that's a little bit about what you were talking about. So I'm curious if your thoughts on that have evolved since our last conversation. 

And the other, I guess tied to that, cause it kind of goes into the next thing I was going to ask about. So related to that, how do you think investors should be thinking about the semiconductor industry as they think about maybe where they want to put some investing money? Cause to me, it feels like. The average person might, if you ask the average investor, that if you said to them, the semiconductor industry is cyclical, where is it in the cycle right now?

They would probably say, Oh, it's, it's great because they're just thinking the Nvidia part of your, of your chart that you just showed. And they might not even know that the rest of the [00:17:00] industry or parts of the industry are still in the downturn. So I'm just curious how you think maybe that's changed with this new AI thing.

Nick Rossolillo: Yeah. Yes. So I, I mean, everybody that's been watching us for a while. Including when, you know, we did some shows, gosh, this at this point, three, four years ago where I had that belief that yes, it is still cyclical, but maybe we skip a cycle, a down cycle. Maybe it's far less cyclical going forward.

And then the bear market happened, like the second bear market, there was the pandemic crash and then the boom. And then like the actual bear market from well, that's a different topic. But then, you know, Nvidia happens and it does kind of pull everybody up out of the cycle a little bit. And there's still this overwhelming narrative out there that.

Semiconductors are just simply more important than they ever have been in the past. It doesn't mean the cycles, the cyclicality goes away.

But we are in this strange period where the end [00:18:00] markets, because they have become so diverse, they don't line up like they used to in the past. Because it used to be, you know, this nice, easy to follow thing, like, you know, the PC market did the same thing as the industrial market.

 It doesn't do that anymore. There's just too many end markets. It's gotten complicated. And we get that question all the time, like on, on YouTube, right? Kasey, like people are like, what about the cyclicality? , should I, is it okay to buy now? And then help us time, time the top and when to sell?

Jeff Santoro: Yeah, if you could do that, you wouldn't be making YouTube videos. 

Nick Rossolillo: Yeah, that's right Kasey. 

Jeff Santoro: Well, let me, so let me ask a question related to that. I'm curious, I'm not going to ask you to like time the market, but I am curious to know where you guys see value in semiconductor related stocks and where you do see over valuation, because I'm assuming there's a mix of both in there and there's probably some under covered, you know, niche players in this space that are probably not as highly valued as maybe they would be if people knew about them and all those kinds of things.

So I'm just [00:19:00] thinking broadly where you, where do you see valuations in this space?

 Where do we see valuations? Kasey? There's definitely deals who's overvalued though. That's probably a shorter list at this point.

Kasey Rossolillo: Specific stocks. I think you've, I think you've called out recently like AMD has, has been one that we have felt that it's, it's more overvalued then it should be right now, but it's starting to pull back specifically. 

Nick Rossolillo: ASML is another one that we've, we called out as overvalued at the end of last year, and then it proceeded to run 25 percent higher from that.

Jeff Santoro: We'll talk more about it later. I got some questions. 

Nick Rossolillo: I think at least as far as we're looking because we're at the bottom of a trough of some sort, we're looking at a new growth cycle starting the second half of this year, assuming that does actually happen, which we like to think the semiconductor market knows because they have great visibility in customer demand. Because these things are so ridiculously complex to manufacture, [00:20:00] massive amounts of capital gets spent years in advance to plan for these cycles.

And so when the money gets spent, like, you know, it happens. But because we're kind of at a bottom of a trough, a lot of stocks appear to be expensive, but maybe are not. You know, that's the problem with cyclical stocks, right? Like valuations are very misleading, especially when investors go to like, you know, Google search or Yahoo Finance, they type in a ticker and just look at the PE ratio.

That's another one we get all the time, right? 

Jason Hall: It's looking backwards to look forward and it's not a good way to invest in cyclical industries. 

Nick Rossolillo: It's tough. It's a tough concept to, to get right. And when I say tough you know, we're to say the least, we're not perfect at it. It's, it's difficult, but I think there, there are lots of deals out there. So, and we've feel like we've uncovered quite a few just in the last month. So it kind of makes us chuckle a little bit when we still get those comments that there's no value. It's, it's expensive. We call [00:21:00] the manufacturing equipment makers as one key area that are going to benefit not just from this new growth cycle, but the massive amount of government spending in the US, in Taiwan, in Korea, Japan, any country that wants to manufacture chips is pouring money into manufacturing.

And these equipment companies are on the cusp of possibly the greatest run of growth they've had in decades. 

Jason Hall: So and the two, of course, that come to mind for that are ASML and Applied Materials, and there's other tooling companies that are involved in that as well, right? But the key is even with, while the cyclicality is playing out on the demand side, there's going to be this need for increased infrastructure and capacity.

Both because of AI and all of the other things around autonomous transportation, machine-to-machine, all the other things that we mentioned, just like those bigger secular tailwinds. But also, and this I think is a good opportunity to segue to thinking about the supply chain. [00:22:00] De risking from China, Southeast Asia Taiwan more broadly and thinking about in North America and Europe too, thinking about relationships with better trade partners..

Jeff Santoro: So, so Jason, you just mentioned You know, kind of pivoting or talking about the supply chain and and you mentioned China and Southeast Asia. That's an area that I'm particularly interested in as it relates to like risk in this sector.

And we will talk probably more about that as it relates to some of the stocks you and I have questions about later on. But I'm curious, Kasey and Nick, any thoughts you have about how we should think about China as investors as it pertains to semiconductors? Do you see china as a risk to the industry?

Do you see it as an opportunity? Is it both? How do you think about that? 

Kasey Rossolillo: Yeah, for me, it is a risk, but everything is a risk in investing. I think that's the one thing that I've especially learned over the past couple of years. Like no matter what you think you have figured out, there's some, there's always a risk involved with it.

But as far as like [00:23:00] specifically with China and geopolitics in general there's always a lot of coverage and noise on both sides of the field with this. And it just doesn't take into account like the real people, the real stories that are happening in these places, both here in America or in Southeast Asia, China, it doesn't matter.

It's ultimately, we're talking about people's lives and jobs. And so that's, I, that's how I feel about it. So I try not to get too deep in this. 

Nick Rossolillo: I'd be curious to hear Jeff and Jason, your take on this, but you know, one thing that we try to remain be balanced on this. Because you know, Kasey and I are like fielding questions. And we have like a community behind like the YouTube face and they're like, they're people from everywhere. Not just the United States. And it's not just like the semiconductor industry where this happens too, but like whenever, you know, we , tune into the news. To see what's happening [00:24:00] and whenever there's like these decisions that are made. You know, tariffs. Tariffs are back in the news again because there was a new round of tariffs placed on China.

Someone made a comment to us a couple months ago in our, our community about you know, some of the, he was referring to the federal reserve, but you know, some of the actions that were taken, like really kind of ruined, ruined the financial picture for my family. It's kind of, you know, global trade has some wonderful aspects to it. And then there's like the ugly side to it as well. It's never perfect, but I think some of the issue that we take with things that have been happening as of late is exactly what Kasey said. Like there's real people, this is not just like my government versus your government type of thing.

My portfolio effects and real, real people versus your government. It's not an investing answer though, is it? 

Jason Hall: But no but honestly, that's something that we try to spend a lot of time thinking about too, being more holistic and broad and factoring those things in because money is emotions.. And [00:25:00] when it comes to these sorts of things, it's, it becomes a bit of a spectator sport where we pick our team. We sometimes kind of lose the humanity in it. And sometimes I think taking that step back, besides just being a better ethical person, I think it also helps make you a better, more grounded investor too. And basing your decision more in facts. 

Let's be honest, the financial media is not out there in our best interests. You know, if it bleeds, it reads. They want us to be anxious and nervous or excited and greedy because that means we're going to be tuning in.

So, so that perspective in that angle, Kasey, as valuable as it is just being an empathetic, good human being, I think it's also makes you a grounded investor too. 

Jeff Santoro: Yeah. I think of the whole China situation as it pertains to global politics and also just investing as it's unique in the sense that it's this enormous opportunity, right?

It's a huge country with a lot of people and a growing, you know, a growing economy and all those kinds of things. So whether you're talking about Starbucks and coffee, or you're talking about semiconductors and, and selling chips to China, you know, [00:26:00] as them, you know, importing chips, 

Jason Hall: I'm right, Jeff's wrong. I'll explain later. 

Jeff Santoro: But I mean, so you can see both sides of it, right? Like, Oh, wow, if we can, see China as a partner and a growth story, it could be enormous for any company that has business there. And then, but then there's the other side of it too, where they've been aggressive towards Taiwan at times, right?

And that's where a lot of the chips are made. So that's kind of what I was getting at. Like, I'm, I'm just curious if you're thinking about putting your capital into a company, how much should an investor worry or think about that geopolitical risk when making Investing decisions. I mean, it's easy to say, well, it would be irrational for China to invade Taiwan just as an example. But it was also irrational for Russia to invade Ukraine and they did anyway. 

So I just feel like, you know, you have to think about this stuff a little bit in terms of where you're going to put your capital. And I just didn't know if it factored into the way you guys invest in any way.

Nick Rossolillo: What would you say? I would say whatever you say.

Kasey Rossolillo: I think it's. It's, it's something that has been answered. Yeah. Yeah. [00:27:00] No, I think it's, I think we've talked about it. We've spent time talking about it and we're not like, I think we've made it pretty clear that we didn't think specifically like Taiwan Semiconductor would add anything to our personal portfolio.

Not necessarily because we were concerned about China invading Taiwan, but it was something we talked about. And I think if it's one of those, one of those things where if you really are concerned about it, maybe it's just not the best position for you to be in. Like if it's something that's going to keep you up at night, then maybe it's just not, not worth it. 

Jeff Santoro: Yeah plenty of other places to put your investing money, I guess, is, is a way to think about it. Yeah. 

Kasey Rossolillo: Yeah. 

Nick Rossolillo: And maybe one other thing I'd add to, because this is, you know, I'm not, we're not political experts, not global trade experts, but there is an interesting storyline going on. It gets very little attention or fanfare. There is this geopolitical tension, the U. S. doesn't want China to develop AI. And then you know what happens in 2023, all of China's [00:28:00] homegrown semiconductor fabs start buying record amounts of equipment to manufacture power chips, right? How often does that make the news media? So they basically say, okay, like we can't have AI, let's make power chips instead. And now you could look at it and say, well, yes, China's the largest EV market in the world by far, by a long shot, like 60 percent of EVs are sold in China.

So there's that argument. They just, they just want to home grow their own power chips. But there's another knock on effect to that is, you know, this is not the US trying to choke off the Soviet union from the semiconductor industry in the sixties and seventies. It's like a, what was the illustration about the sourdough, sorry, the mic wave and the mic around here, the sourdough starter.

Um, do you remember? 

Kasey Rossolillo: I'm sorry, I don't. I'm an expert on sourdough [00:29:00] starter, but not on this illustration.

Nick Rossolillo: Was so like, you know, you can make sourdough bread if you have the starter. So like China has the sourdough starter, right? 

Jason Hall: That's the analog power chips. 

Nick Rossolillo: Yeah. In the sixties and seventies you know, there was no possible way to get, if you couldn't get the sourdough starter, like you were just out.

And that's how, you know, Chip War by Chris Miller. Russia never got the, that's not sourdough starters, not in that book. So don't go looking for it. That's like our own thing that we were talking about one time.

Jason Hall: China's gone through a little bit of the same thing that Russia went through where they basically they hedged their entire semiconductor industries, trying to reverse engineer every generation of chips.

Which meant every year, they'd come out with the three year old version, right? Which you can't do. It's not innovative. It doesn't let you compete. So, go ahead. Sorry. Tangent. 

Nick Rossolillo: And that's starting to happen again, except the big difference is now is, you know, getting the thing up and running off the ground from scratch [00:30:00] is difficult, but China's not starting from scratch.

So you could kind of make this argument that yes, geopolitics is a risk for the semiconductor industry, but it's not The semiconductor industry is making this is governments not being able to get along with each other. That's the risk. Yeah, that makes sense. There's a little bit of nuance to that. 

Jeff Santoro: But yeah, that's a good point. I just I think whatever is causing the risk, I just think it's worth having that conversation. As investors because you have to be thinking about where to put your money. 

All right. So let's switch gears a little bit here. I want to talk about AI. A because it's a huge topic out in the world and B because then we can put it in the show notes and, uh, hopefully drive some traffic to the podcast.

Jason Hall: We're here for the ad revenue, by the way. 

Jeff Santoro: The whole AI thing has been fascinating for me to watch because I feel like we've been living in a world with AI for a lot longer than it's been a thing out in the public. You know, it was really ChatGPT that kind of put it on everyone's radar, but there's, you know, Machine learning and artificial intelligence have been in all the products we [00:31:00] use for years now.

And so as you can, as you would imagine with any new thing, the financial media has bought into the hype cycle. And we're seeing a lot of really good AI stuff and a lot of really bad AI stuff. And you're hearing all the good things it's going to do. And you're hearing how it's going to ruin humanity.

So I'm curious, you know, as people who think about this kind of stuff a lot more than than Jason and I do, where your thoughts are in terms of AI. Where's the good stuff happening and where's maybe some of the bad stuff happening?

Kasey Rossolillo: Well, I think there is a lot of good stuff. I think it would be difficult to understate how AI artificial intelligence in various forms could change the way we live our life. I think you're right completely though, Jeff, I think it's been there for a really long time and now we're just like, really, it's really come into our consciousness now because of all of these companies and all of the media reports.

But I think ultimately, the good things are for businesses, workflow efficiency, driving the cost down for businesses because of that workflow efficiency. [00:32:00] But the adverse of that is that the business is way more efficient and doesn't need as many people working there. 

Nick Rossolillo: I had a question about this a couple months ago after NVIDIA GTC because there's a perfect example of this that they showed off and At the outset Kasey didn't mention she's a registered nurse. She worked in health care. I think you should tell the people about kind of cool AI But also I want to hear the cool story kind of 

Kasey Rossolillo: freak 

Nick Rossolillo: you at the same time, 

Kasey Rossolillo: kind of, kind of cool, but kind of creepy AI.

Nick Rossolillo: Yeah. 

Kasey Rossolillo: I was, I was, uh, I went ahead and looked on, you can find some of this on hippocratic AI. com and that's who Nvidia partnered with or is working with on their healthcare agents. And it's, this is just really interesting to me, but these healthcare agents, these AI healthcare agents can follow up with patients after their procedures.

They do preoperative or perioperative visits with patients [00:33:00] or discuss their chronic illnesses. It's, it's really interesting. And it's like for nine, less than $9 an hour, which is ridiculous in comparison to what you would pay, what you should be paying a registered nurse. And so I think for me, it's, it was, are you going to show the, uh, share the screen?

Yeah. Yeah. You can check out some of these. It's healthcare agents. And I feel like if it was going to be more realistic, they would probably need to ditch the makeup and like look much more sleep deprived. 

Jason Hall: They're not anywhere near as haggard as they are. 

Jeff Santoro: These nurses are way too happy and rested.

Jason Hall: I have multiple nurses in my family. I know what nurses look like and they're beautiful, tired people. 

Kasey Rossolillo: Exactly. The Haggard nurse is the look. 

Jason Hall: We'll have the link for that in the show notes or in the transcript as well. But it's very interesting to see to me, this is an example of like a tangible real thing that's impacting not just business and the [00:34:00] healthcare industry. Kasey, you know, better than I could that I do, but it's a really hard industry and the margins are really thin. And it's hard to get good people and then pay them and keep them. It's an ugly, tough business. And this is potentially a way that could directly benefit the bottom line and the ability to provide better care, but also something that people would be interacting with artificial intelligence in real time.

And I think that's, to me, that's one of the big differences that I've seen with this. We had, uh, Simon Erickson on, and we talked about how this is more of an inflection point than a bubble. There's bubbles in it. Of course, there always are when there's big, massive things like this that are happening.

But to me, why this seems like an inflection point examples like, uh, like that are great. But then also, if you think about where the spend is happening for artificial intelligence, the companies that are buying NVIDIA's GPUs are some of the most profitable technology companies in the world, right?

These are companies [00:35:00] that are really, really good at allocating capital to get better margins. Companies like Microsoft that, guess what? If you're in the enterprise you know Microsoft, right? You use Microsoft and you give them a pretty big part of your technology budget. And they're in a position to capture like real value because those customers of theirs they want more efficiency, right? They want to improve productivity and they'll pay for AI that helps them do it.

Thinking about Alphabet, parent company of Google. So Gemini, I believe, is that what they call it? They still call it Gemini. That's their AI. It's an, it's an AI that we can actually interact with in the real world. ChatGPT from OpenAI as well. 

And that's the other side of this one to me that I think is different. Because like Jeff said, there's been machine learning. Involved in some of the products and services that we use for years, but we actually see these, these, and we can interact with them and they feel intelligent, right?

But there's also clear ways to generate revenue from them as well. So. I'm curious to hear some thoughts from [00:36:00] both of you on that. 

Nick Rossolillo: It is definitely an inflection point for sure. There's no doubt about it. And that's why we literally started Chip Stock Investor. That was like the belief that it was starting to happen then in 2022 in the midst of the bear market.

But I think what's important here is it's not an AI inflection point that's part of it. You, we have to zoom out a little bit. This is an accelerated computing inflection point. That sounds like the same thing but it's not actually, it would be kind of like saying, you know, the mobile smartphone revolution was all about being able to talk and text message while walking down the street.

That was one application for mobile. And as the years went by, like more incredible things happened. Like then we had the iPhone came out and you could have apps and then these apps progressively got better over the years. And you could like do the same thing that you did on your PC on your phone. And then like [00:37:00] all this cloud computing infrastructure had to be built to support these really, really powerful, incredible applications.

That's kind of what accelerated computing is. It's not AI is just like the one application. And you know, granted, when I, I say AI here, what I'm really talking about is generative AI, ChatGPT, or Gemini, like you just said, Jason. 

Jason Hall: Right. Not AGI. 

Nick Rossolillo: Exactly. And you're baiting, you're baiting. I'm not going down that rabbit hole.

Jason Hall: That's that'll be the followup episode. We do in, maybe later this summer. 

Nick Rossolillo: Okay. Fun. That sounds fun. Yeah, we're totally AGI is going to be here in two to three years and then, uh, it will totally change everything all over again. But no, seriously, like chat bots were just kind of like the first iteration of this where everybody said, wow, this stuff is actually really powerful.

This AI thing that we've been talking about since the first Terminator movie came out 40 years ago, like maybe it's finally here. [00:38:00] And so it's just going to continue to get better and more use cases and applications like the creepy nurses Kasey pointed out. We'll just have more 

of that.

Jeff Santoro: Hey everybody, we'll be right back, but first, a word from our sponsors. Earlier in the show, you heard us talk about investing platform, That's where you can trade options with no commissions or per contract fees. And you get a rebate of up to 18 cents per contract traded. NerdWallet recently gave public five out of five stars for options trading.

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So let me, I want to ask the follow up question that popped into my head as we were kind of chatting through all this. And this is some, this is going to sound probably naive and dumb, but I don't know this space nearly as well as the three of you. 

Jason Hall: Or as I like to say, it's going to sound like Jeff. 

Jeff Santoro: Yeah. It's going to sound like me. But do we have a, is [00:39:00] there a chance we can't keep up with this compute need? It just seems like we're making so many chips and building data centers to put them in with serve, you know, like, it, Are we going to run is are we just going to have warehouses and data centers everywhere?

Because it feels like this growth is exponential. You know, it, it feels like it's happening like really, really fast. And there's a lot of it. And you know, these chips are super complex to make, but we're making millions of them a year. And I'm just curious, like, Okay. Is this going to change the way the world looks, just in the sense that, like, we're going to face this kind of dystopian, everything's a city because there's warehouses everywhere.

Like, how does the physical infrastructure, I think this is related to the semiconductor aspect of this. Like, how do you see that playing out as this compute need? Just keeps growing exponentially over time. 

Kasey Rossolillo: Your question's not dumb. I thought about this too. We're at least on the same page. No, I thought about this too because it's it is insane It's it seems like there is no end to all of this. So I guess I don't know. I don't know the [00:40:00] answer to this question. 

Nick Rossolillo: Well, so we're actually in, this is going to get incorporated somewhere in, in a video and the not so distant future, but there's that article that Google and Harvard put out just about a week ago about the human brain. And it's, it's incredible. You know, obviously AI can perform far more computations than we can per second, but like the human brain is, is if you want to call it a technological marvel and put it up against a chip. There's millions of connections, each synapse, and you can go have a snack, Jeff to ask to help you ask your next dumb question and it will power those millions of connections per sign apps for like the rest of the day. And it's all crammed into a very small space. So that's it comes in waves, right?

You know, right now there's this new infrastructure that's amazing, but it's also huge and it consumes way too much power. So it's not [00:41:00] sustainable. So now all that infrastructure gets rolled out. It gets built. We're talking about, you know, these new AI data centers, which some think will be a $1 trillion worth. Not per year spend, but like total worth alongside the old data center market, which is worth $1 trillion. So now $2 trillion worth of data centers that'll be built within the next five years. 

Jason Hall: And by doubling the amount of data centers, you're doubling the upgrade cycle of those data centers to the latest technology to do all of this compute.

Nick Rossolillo: And this, now this brings us full circle. To the original point, one of the original points you made Jason about this is an iterative thing. It's manufacturing. So now all that infrastructure is installed. Now the work shifts to, yeah, we want more compute power every year. A new system will come out that's more powerful, but it also will need to get smaller and more energy efficient too.

So that, yes, the world does not [00:42:00] turn into a big, giant wall of, of warehouses full of data centers and servers. 

Jeff Santoro: I mean, just the electrical power too, is going to be, you know, we don't have the world's greatest grid here in the United States without exponential growth in semiconductor power.

Kasey Rossolillo: Yes, exactly. Exactly. 

Jason Hall: What I pictured what I pictured in my mind. Was interstates, lined by shipping containers, filled with servers, just full of servers, and batteries. Completely covered with solar panels, and of course on the other side was wind turbines lined up.

That's, that's, that's the world I see. 

Jeff Santoro: That's beautiful. What a picture, what a picture you've just painted for all of us. 

Nick Rossolillo: We would no longer have to worry about getting pale and pasty in the winter time or we'll get, we'll just keep our nice complexions from all those mirrors and solar panels driving down the freeway.

And TPI Composites will be a long term winner as a result. 

Jeff, even in winter time in Jersey, you can, [00:43:00] 

Jeff Santoro: yes, that's what I need. That's what I need. All right. Let's, let's talk about some stocks. Jason, you wanted to ask about some stocks. 

Jason Hall: Well, there is a stock in particular that I wanted to tap Nick about.

And this is one that if you remember, Nick, you go back a few years ago, this is Intel. Like I, I made a bet on Intel for, as a turnaround. And it was pretty early in Pat Gelsinger returning to the company that he would be the guy to be able to turn it around. I was early, which means I was wrong.

At the, at the time I ended up selling but I've more recently, I'm starting to wonder if it's time to maybe bet on Intel as a turnaround. There's some things, questions that I have for you about it. And kind of going back to the previous, so this is a company that the Wintel duopoly, it was. An incredible, incredible thing.

Like this company did incredible things before that even happened. And then once that happened, the next 30 years was remarkable, but somewhere along the way, the accountants got [00:44:00] control, they missed the mobile opportunity. There's actually a little bit in Chip War about that, where Apple wanted Intel to make the processor for the iPhone, they didn't think it was going to be a big enough business. So they said, no. 

x86 platform. There's maybe some questions about energy efficiency, whether it can do it. They focused on PCs in the server market. Well, guess what? They're losing the server market now to AMD and more GPUs, NVIDIA and AMD are taking that away. So structurally the business was kind of rotten at its core.

My, my questions are, can x86 be a viable platform in the accelerated computing world? Is there an, is there enough meat left on the bones of, of this business, financially, to do what they're trying to do and stand up this contract manufacturing foundry business while also still having their vertically integrated design and manufacturing business? And will their customers that could also be competitors trust them to to be a contract [00:45:00] manufacturer and use that x86 platform, right? Is it that is that architecture even worth it? So I'm gonna throw all those at you answer those or don't answer them and give me answer the questions you think are more important.

Nick Rossolillo: First, maybe let's say what's separate the stock from the business itself. Yes. The last time Kasey and I talked about Intel a month and a half ago, it was over 50 bucks a share. And I think we lambasted it and now it's at $30. And that changes things. If you're looking to buy a stock, you were lambasting the stock and other things.

But let's maybe set the stock aside for a moment and talk about the business 


Jason Hall: Because you have to do that. If you're thinking about a turnaround or a value play, you have to evaluate the business first. 

Nick Rossolillo: Yes. Yes, because the stock is, 

Jason Hall: it doesn't matter if the business is not investable. 

Nick Rossolillo: Yeah. And you know, this is, this is like in investment where investment styles may [00:46:00] differ because some will disagree and it just, you know, it just boils down to valuation.

And if it's cheap enough, you buy it and you know, that's just not our style. So maybe I'll, I'll say that first. You know, if you want to look at the stock first and the valuation, fine. We look at the business first. And so let's pick it a part here. So Kasey and I were actually this weekend, we were listening to an awesome podcast.

It's the only time we've ever not listened to Investing Unscripted. We were listening to Cautionary Tales, and there was this episode about the, uh, I think it was an older episode about the V2, Germany's V2. And they were the missile program that greatly contributed to Germany running out of money during World War II, at the end of World War II.

And they made a really, really important point that's relevant here. And it's that mega projects, which is exactly what Intel is. It's a global mega project at this point, every, every government North America, the U S and Canada [00:47:00] to a lesser extent, Europe if decided that Intel needs to succeed.

So it was like a multi continental mega project at this point. Mega projects have a major risk and that the benefits are always overstated. And the time it will take to finish said mega project are always underestimated. That's why mega projects fail. That's the problem at this point with Intel, because a few years ago it was in a different place.

Jason, we could talk about, okay, what does Intel need to do to get back on track? But what Gelsinger has decided to do, like it or not, because this is kind of a political taste thing at this point is he's turned it into that. That's kind of like what he ended up doing was he, nothing happened for the first year and a half, two years when he walked in there until he got governments to say, here's $10 billion, here's $20 billion, here's $30 billion in subsidies and tax credits and grants and so on and so forth.

Okay, now we'll build a fab. Now we'll announce that we're building the fab. So Intel's no longer a [00:48:00] turnaround story. Intel's a mega project that is tied at the hip to government supporting it, and that's a really dangerous thing to bet on, in our opinion. 

Jeff Santoro: So would you summarize it by saying it, it falls into the category of great risk, but great reward?

Like it could work out and be a big win for investors, but the risk to, to investors? To like take a shot at that might be too great. Is that another way to kind of summarize it? Or is the reward not even worth the risk? I guess it's more of a two. 

Jason Hall: Is it more of a too hard pile? 

Nick Rossolillo: Well, there's okay. Well, maybe it's too hard, but there are so many great semiconductor businesses out there, right? What do you need a turnaround story for as an investor now as a business? And if you think like Intel is that important to the world, which you could definitely argue.

Yes. Okay. Intel needs to succeed. We can definitely make that argument, but as a stock, as an investor, especially not a trader, like a swing trade or something, maybe that's a different conversation. But for us, when we want to like buy a business and forget about it [00:49:00] indefinitely in an ideal scenario.

Why Intel? When there are so many great semiconductor businesses that are just taking the company's lunch left and right. 

Jason Hall: One of my favorite things to say is that the market doesn't give you bonus returns for degree of difficulty. And that's one of the things, honestly, that's kept me from it is exactly that there's there, there are easier, more obvious opportunities.

And, and I think that's fair. 

Jeff Santoro: All right. So I want to pivot to a company that I think is a better opportunity, even though it's not in the same bucket, maybe as Intel and is ASML. So this is one that I own. And I, I talk about a lot. Here's my question. What's the bear case for ASML? Because to me, Okay. It seems like, no, I see your finger that Jason, I don't, I don't want to hear from you right now.

Jason Hall: I want to say this because I think it's really interesting because we brought up Chip War and what's so interesting to me about talking about Intel and then going to ASML is I think in a lot of ways, ASML is like this perfect representation of Intel having funded the [00:50:00] company that to some extent has partially been it's undoing, right? 

Jeff Santoro: Okay. Are you done now? Yeah. Can I, can I continue Jason? 

Jason Hall: I think we should let Nick, Nick talk. 

Nick Rossolillo: Kasey, do you want to start? Cause we literally just finished reading an article about this. Yes, absolutely. Go ahead. 

Kasey Rossolillo: I want to hear what, uh, what's the question, Jeff?

Well, no, I, so I was just, 

Jeff Santoro: to me, it feels like.. 

Jason Hall: What's the bear case? 

Jeff Santoro: If yes, to me, it feels like one of those companies that you just buy until you have as much as you want, And you just leave it there because it will go through ups and downs. Obviously, every stock does, but I just can't imagine it not being this crucially important piece of this puzzle for decades.

Unless, obviously, there's some other technology that replaces lithography or something. But maybe that's the one bear case. I don't know. But I'm asking you guys, what's the bear case? What should you worry about if you're considering investing in ASML?

Kasey Rossolillo: I guess the bear case is for me all these chip manufacturing companies buy all they need to from ASML at [00:51:00] this point. Like right now we're going through this, this cycle, as Nick mentioned, where all of these chip fabs are purchasing equipment.

 At some point, have they placed too many of their bets on this, this newest machine, the high NA EUV machine, which is now triple the price of their last, or I guess, double the price of their last leading edge machine. Have they placed too much emphasis on this machine versus the others and have all of these other companies filled the fabs that they needed to with, you With all of the manufacturing equipment that they need.

Jason Hall: We're overestimating the growth. 

Nick Rossolillo: It's another mega-project.

 Casey's right. And the high NA machine is upwards of $400 million a piece. Let that sink in. And that's just one machine. Like you can't put one of them in your fab and be like, I'm open for business. Apple hit me with all of your iPhone orders. You need to buy a bunch of these things. Like if Apple decides to adopt, like whatever [00:52:00] 16, 16 angstrom chips, Or 14 angstrom chips.

We're getting into angstroms now in, in, in tells them, 

Jason Hall: we don't know what that means. We'll pretend like we do. 

Nick Rossolillo: It's really tiny. It's ridiculously small features on a chip that you can measure in atoms. In dimension, like we're talking like a couple dozen atoms in dimension at this point.

Jason Hall: So it goes to 11.

Nick Rossolillo: Yeah, yeah, exactly. This thing's 11. And what if someone says, you know what? We don't need 11. We can get by without 11. And that's exactly what TSMC just said a few days ago. When they, Intel has been talking about we're going to pass up TSMC. In 2025 with our latest manufacturing process, it's going to be a better manufacturing technology process.

TSMC, of course, has been working on something that's going to keep pace, obviously, and they announce it and say, we can do it without the ASML high NA [00:53:00] UV machine. We don't need it. At least that's what they think at this point. 

And there's, so what's the bear case for ASML? They're a specialist. All they do is lithography.

So like what Kasey said, what if everybody fills up their fabs with all the lithography they need and then the technology just kind of shifts a different direction. Now what? You have this premium priced business. We own ASML stock, by the way. 

Jason Hall: Same. 

Nick Rossolillo: So. 

Jeff Santoro: Yeah, same. That was the only one I could come up with in my, you know, non expert brain was like any technology company technologies change.

And, you know, lithography is the thing right now. Maybe it won't be forever. I guess the flip side of that for me was, It's the growth story I was telling myself is, you know, this push towards near shoring of, you know, uh, the, you know, bringing fabs home, building, you know, TM, TSMC is building fabs in Arizona or something like that.

You know, I'm thinking, well, that's a growth story, right? They're going to fill those with ASML machines. But I guess if they, if they, like you said, if they're [00:54:00] finding ways around, around that, then I guess that, that is bad for the company. 

Nick Rossolillo: And maybe if we could share one more slide. This is what Kasey was talking about. Like everybody is now trying to fill up their fabs with as much manufacturing equipment as they think they need.

On various governments dime, and then they fill up all those fabs. And then what happens when we reach that overhang of excess manufacturing capacity somewhere around 2030, maybe sooner, maybe later, I don't know, but it's going to happen. This is the, in our mind, this is the primary risk, the longterm risks that we called out when we started the channel, super bullish on chip stocks for the next five, 10 years originally. Now we're getting closer to five years at this point.

 But then what? You know, every this is this. Now that we're going back to the bubble thing, like, is this a bubble? Yeah, it is a bubble. This is what causes a bubble when everybody is racing for the same asset for the same project for the same you know, thing to throw capital [00:55:00] at. And eventually the market is really good at funneling all that capital in one direction when there's return to be made.

And then when everybody realizes one day, hey, there's no more return. The market's really good at pulling the rug out from everybody and shifting that capital a different direction. That's exactly what's going to happen with this. And so that's a risk for ASML. It's a risk for the whole industry really.

You know, it's nice to get all these subsidies right now, but at some point there's going to be excess manufacturing capacity and there will be fallout from that. 

Jeff Santoro: Maybe as a place to wrap the conversation because it's you have it on the slide there that 2030 and beyond possibly the shift into quantum computing.

Can you maybe give a quick overview? I don't know how it's probably more complex than a quick overview would do justice to but what is quantum computing and why could that upend this entire industry?

Nick Rossolillo: We are not sure that it will even happen in the first place. We originally put that on there because that's when a lot of people think [00:56:00] that will be the next focus to be completely fair it may not happen at all. We, 

Jason Hall: One of those, this amazing innovation that's 10 years away and kind of always has been right. So, 

Nick Rossolillo: We just wrapped up a record session earlier today where Kasey found a slide of an MRI machine. Quantum computing makes use of quantum mechanics to further accelerate compute power even beyond what NVIDIA's GPUs can do.

And maybe we don't need that. Maybe the best thing about quantum mechanics is like something, something else, like the MRI machine. The MRI machine that you like, maybe go to the hospital to get diagnosed for something is an incredible piece of technology that also uses quantum mechanics to function.

So maybe, you know, quantum computing may not even be a thing. Maybe we get other cool technology other than quantum computers. So the main focus of that slide was we're, we're going to crash guys by 2030, the chip market's going down. 

Jeff Santoro: So, so it may not be that [00:57:00] that brings it down, but something will, is I guess the point.

Jason Hall: So we should all be buying puts in 2029. That's what you're saying. 

Nick Rossolillo: This is the fatal flaw with the way investing works though. Right. You know, we get like these bubble cycles every five to 10 years where capital all floods in one direction. And then when the last penny can be squeezed out of it, money shifts direction and it causes some sort of market crash.

And you know, it's not that the industry is going to be dead. I'm being sarcastic a bit on that as well, but it'll cause a pretty severe downturn at some point in the future. 

Jason Hall: Because it always does happen. Right. But we've always seen the other side. The market gets bigger, the opportunity is larger, the applications are greater.

And that's probably to me the biggest unanswered, unanswerable at this point is what does all of this accelerated computing, what does it look like? Not in 2030, but 2040, 2050 that's, I think that's going to be the fun part of the story to play out. 

And Nick [00:58:00] Kasey, having you guys as a resource is one of the things that I think is going to help a lot of people have a better idea of what's going on and invest better along this journey. Really appreciate you guys coming on today. 

Kasey Rossolillo: Thanks for having us on. 

Jason Hall: Absolutely. Last question before we do wrap up the show, where exactly can people find you besides YouTube, we're going to have a Chip Stock Investor link in the show notes.

We're going to have it in the transcript as well. I know you guys are both on social media. Where are you on social media? 

Kasey Rossolillo: You can find us on, yeah, Nick NRossolillo for Twitter. Me, it's KRossolillo

Jason Hall: Perfect. All right. We'll have that in the transcript as well.

Really excited about following this journey along with you guys. And we will see you on the next show that you're on, whenever that is. 

Okay, friends, as always, we love giving our answers to these hard questions about investing. Really, really complicated, fun industries that are like rocket science, only harder.

We love having great people like Nick and Kasey on to give their answers as well to [00:59:00] help you inform your answers. But as always, those answers need to be yours. Figure them out, people. You can do it. I believe in you.

Hey, Jeff, I'll see you next time, buddy. 

Jeff Santoro: See you next time. 

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