Wedbush Securities downgraded AMD to neutral, but others praised Su as the right woman to help AMD reach the embedded and semi-custom markets it's now targeted. The stock fell 8% in after-hours trading and is down nearly 10% to about $3 in recent trading. The stock, down nearly 24% for the year to date, is near its low for the year.
Like many of her peers in tech, such as Marissa Mayer at Yahoo! (YHOO) , Meg Whitman at Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) - Get Report and Safra Catz at Oracle (ORCL) - Get Report , Su seems to come into the hot seat with the company at a low ebb.
But looks may be deceiving. On a male candidate, Su's resume would mean a fast track to industry leadership and their ambition to lead would not be questioned.
AMD is best known as the Art Garfunkel to Intel's (INTC) - Get Report Paul Simon, a perpetual number two in a PC market that is no longer growing. Read, who became CEO in August, 2011, was positioning the company to push into embedded and semi-custom markets.
Nathan Brookwood, who follows AMD at Insight64 in Saratoga, Calif., likes the move. "If there is an innocent explanation, all those skeptics who are selling now will think they should have held on," he said. "Nobody doubts Lisa Su's capability."
Patrick Moorhead, founder and principal analyst for Moor Insights & Strategy, said Su will be "in growth mode," calling her "incredibly smart" and insisting "AMD can survive. The only questions I am getting are on its ability to thrive and become a high-growth tech company again. That will be on Lisa Su's back."
Brookwood said AMD is the only chip company that can produce processors based on either Intel's x86 design or that of ARM Holdings (ARMH) . "They are moving in the right direction," and Su is a good choice as Read's successor.
AMD has a market cap now of just $2.5 billion. It has been profitable for just two of the last five quarters, but Read said in the conference call announcing the move that the company has stabilized, that new structures are in place and AMD is now poised for growth.
Dr. Su took all her degree work at MIT but also has experience at Texas Instruments (TXN) - Get Report , IBM (IBM) - Get Report and Freescale Semiconductor (FSL) . She joined AMD in 2012 from Freescale where she was chief technology officer.
"Lisa Su is respected inside and outside the company and, quite frankly, has more of what people expect when they imagine a semiconductor CEO" than Read, said Moorhead.
With Su, AMD gets a relatively young, Chinese-American, MIT graduate who will have credibility selling to the Chinese original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) AMD must win over to execute Read's strategy. Analysts said Su can talk to both top managers and floor engineers.
Unlike other female CEOs, in other words, Lu's rise looks well-planned, and she's not going to have to save the ship, just steer it. The timing of her succession may have looked bad but bullish analysts think this move looks right.
At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
TheStreet Ratings team rates ADVANCED MICRO DEVICES as a Hold with a ratings score of C-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:
"We rate ADVANCED MICRO DEVICES (AMD) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed ? some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, impressive record of earnings per share growth and compelling growth in net income. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself and generally higher debt management risk."
You can view the full analysis from the report here: AMD Ratings Report