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AMD shares crater after Morgan Stanley warns cryptocurrency mining chip demand will be cut in half

AMD will face demand problems for its graphics processors next year in two key markets, according to one top Wall Street firm.

Morgan Stanley reduced its rating for AMD shares to underweight from equal-weight, predicting cryptocurrency mining and gaming console demand for its graphics chip business will falter in 2018.

The company's shares are down 4 percent in Monday's premarket session after the report. The stock declined 13.5 percent Wednesday, a day after it gave fourth-quarter profitability guidance below some Wall Street estimates.

AMD's "fundamental outlook is not quite as robust as microprocessor momentum has been slow to build, offset by cryptocurrency gains," analyst Joseph Moore wrote in a note to clients Monday. "We believe that AMD's graphics surge has been caused by a sharp increase in sales of graphics chips to cryptocurrency miners. We expect this to meaningfully decelerate next year."

Cryptocurrency miners use graphics cards based on AMD's and Nvidia's chips to "mine" new coins, which can then be sold or held for future appreciation. The price of digital currency ethereum is up more than 3,500 percent so far this year, according to Coindesk data.

Moore lowered his price target for AMD shares to $8 from $11, representing 32 percent downside from Friday's close.

The analyst predicts cryptocurrency mining driven sales for AMD's graphics chips will decline by 50 percent next year or a $250 million decline in revenue. He also forecasts video game console demand will decline by 5.5 percent in 2018.

"We expect cryptocurrency to gradually fade from here, consoles to decline, and graphics to be flattish," he wrote. "To be clear, we admire what the company has accomplished on a fraction of its competitors' budgets in both microprocessors and graphics - our cautious view is based entirely on the current stock price, and the limited potential for upside in 2018 and beyond."

AMD's stock is up 64 percent in the past 12 months through Friday compared with the S&P 500's 21 percent gain. It has underperformed so far this year with its shares up 4 percent year-to-date versus the market's 15 percent return.

The company didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.