Chip stocks can 'bust through' to new highs if investors stay bullish on 5G: Analyst

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Semiconductor stocks are surging.

The VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF is up nearly 30 percent year to date, hitting a new 52-week high Wednesday after Nomura initiated coverage on chipmakers Intel and Advanced Micro Devices with buy ratings. Many well-known semiconductor stocks have locked in impressive year-to-date gains, even as some, including Nvidia and Micron, are still down for the last 12 months.

And if investors stay optimistic on the prospect of 5G, the fifth generation of wireless connectivity that is expected to boost overall demand for semiconductors, the group could have even more long-term upside, BK Asset Management’s Boris Schlossberg said Wednesday.

“The market is making a big bet on 5G and data sensor continuation,” Schlossberg told CNBC’s “Trading Nation.” “I think if that bet comes through, it’s a completely different ballgame. [The] internet of things, and chips becoming essentially embedded in everything that we do, could really create a much wider, bigger demand than we can imagine. So they could bust through those highs if that’s indeed going to be the story of ’19 to ’20.”

Schlossberg, who is managing director of FX strategy at his firm, added that he would “definitely” own the chip stocks “as a group,” though he would prefer to wait for a pullback given his long-term conviction.

Mark Newton, managing member and founder of Newton Advisors, was not as optimistic.

“I don’t like the group here,” he said in the same “Trading Nation” interview. “I think they’re unattractive technically [for] a couple reasons.”

First, the technician pointed out that the VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF has run up 35 percent since the start of the year, from $82.64 on Jan. 3 to $112 at Wednesday’s highs.

At the same time, “you’re seeing momentum gradually start to stall out a little bit,” Newton said, referencing the ETF’s relative strength index, which measures buying and selling pressure.

“It was higher in February and March,” he said of the RSI. “So we’re moving towards prior highs, but yet momentum is not keeping up. That’s often times a warning sign to at least take profits. I think upside is limited, 3 to 5 percent, so I’m not a buyer here.”

The VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF ended Wednesday with a gain of more than 2 percent.

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