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Intel cheers as AMD silently weeps

Intel Corp. had a quarter of ups and downs.  It was shocked when the Federal Trade Commission announced that it would be formally investigating whether the company, which controls roughly 80 to 90 percent of the worldwide microprocessor market, abused its dominant position in an illegal fashion. 

Despite this down, there were numerous ups.  Amidst a war of words with NVIDIA, Intel forged ahead with its upcoming discrete graphics offerings, set to take on NVIDIA and subsidiary ATI, owned by its chief microprocessor competitor, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).  Intel also was pleased to see a strong Centrino 2 launch with many partner products, after concerns stemming from some initial glitches and delays.

Intel now has even more good news -- the company just announced a strong quarterly report.

With reports from competitor AMD, Google Inc, International Business Machines Corp and Microsoft Corp all coming later this week, Intel set the bar high.  It reported a 25 percent rise in profit, thanks to healthy notebook processor demand.  It also beat expectations with its forecasted revenue.

The only disappointment in the report was in the gross margin, which fell slightly below the middle of Intel's projected target range.  This is thought to be again fueled by the same thing that boosted profits -- strong demand for cheap notebook computers.

Some are critical that despite the otherwise strong report the gross margin is a sign of weakness for Intel.  CRT Capital Group analyst Ashok Kumar stated, "The concern on the Street was that demand may be falling off the cliff. We've seen that in the handset market. So at least as Intel's results and outlook goes, we're not seeing similar weakness in the PC market."

However, even Kumar couldn't deny that Intel did well over the quarter, despite this troublesome indicator.  He added, "The only mild disappointment was in the gross margin line due to a higher mix of low-end notebooks, but overall I think the result was a surprise on the positive side, given the macro environment."

He argued, "I think right now investors are looking at technology as a glass that's half-empty and not half-full, but relative to other sectors, the negative earnings revisions in technology have been more mild.  And if we can navigate through seasonally weak summer months, we should get a seasonal tail-wind for the technology sector."

Intel's Chief Executive Paul Otellini on a conference call with analysts cheered the good news and added, "Demand for our leading-edge computing products around the world continues to be strong, with revenue and unit shipments towards the high end of the seasonal norm."

Chief Financial Officer Stacy Smith told Reuters said the strong demand will continue in the second half of 2008, "The demand signals we're seeing are pretty strong."

Intel remains successful in the face of a key shift -- with notebooks finally surpassing desktops in sales, a feat long predicted.  This year notebook sales for the year are expected to indeed pass desktops for the first time.  Intel seemingly confirmed this saying that for the first time in excess of 50 percent of all the processors it shipped were mobile processors.  CFO Smith remarked, "It's a pretty important milestone."

Tough times may be ahead as Intel weathers the FTC storm and attempts to carve out a spot in the discrete graphics market, but it seems in good shape to meet the challenges that await.



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Falling off the cliff?
By dwalton on 7/16/2008 3:17:37 PM , Rating: 3
Isn't Intel bolstered by the falling dollar as most of its wafer fabs are in the US and with a weaker dollar the more inexpensive the Intel's cpus becomes to world outside of the US?

Haven't the demand of the markets outside the US been growing lately. So where does cheaper cpu + growing demand in the world suppose to equal demand falling off the cliff.

It seems to me that most analysts are focusing on the stagnant US market and not enough of the world market, where overall growth is positive.




RE: Falling off the cliff?
By teckytech9 on 7/17/2008 2:03:50 AM , Rating: 2
The increased notebook processor demand could be attributed to developing countries expenditures for cheaper laptops. The OLPC program prompted Intel to deliver laptops to these countries in large numbers.

Margins are pretty thin when the dollar is depreciating, inflation is rising and cheap laptops are in high demand globally. This could probably explain why the stock failed to rally on the news.


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