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Ultrabook sales suffer, but Intel still manages to impress in a stale market

Intel Corp.'s (INTC) fiscal third quarter offered a fair bit of optimism, despite a slowing personal computer market.

The world's largest PC chipmaker earned $3.0B USD on a revenue of $13.46B USD.  The analyst consensus according to Financial Times were earnings of $2.8B USD on a revenue of $13.23B USD (43 analysts surveyed).  That represents a surprise of 5.6 and 1.8 percent on the earnings and revenue side, respectively.

Intel continues to reward its investors via $1.1B USD in dividends and $1.2B USD in stock repurchases.

The core PC Client Group was down 8 percent on a year-to-year basis in revenue, but that was expected.  While reviews of Intel's latest and greatest CPU -- the 22 nm Ivy Bridge Core i[3,5,7] branded line -- have generally been decent, PC sales as a whole have been depressed by a slowing global economy and currency concerns.  

Intel's Ultrabooks -- a push that was supposed to drive up margins -- have been largely a sales flop, despite Intel's claims that 2012 would be the "year of the Ultrabook".  Some consumers are certainly going for the slender, lightweight, powerful portables, but price has proved a key disincentive driving down sales.
Spectre XT black
As analysts predicted, Ivy Bridge Ultrabooks' "premium" prices have suppressed sales.
[Image Source: HP]

The chipmaker estimates revenue of $13.5B +/- 0.5B USD.  Intel also expects $11.3B USD in capital spending, most of which goes to Intel's industry-leading research and development efforts.  Intel is racing to fend off feisty competitors like the coalition of chipmakers licensing ARM Holdings, Plc.'s  (LON:ARM) lightweight, power-efficient cores and instruction sets.  

Those rivals mostly use third party fabs, which trail Intel in process technology.  Thus Intel is in an ideal position, in a way, in that it has slack on the architectural front, assuming its aggressive die shrinks can yield superior power savings to the nodes that competitors are producing on.

The Santa Clara, California giant expects to pay an effective tax rate of 27 percent for the year of 2012 -- a total significantly higher than some top tech companies (the average for Fortune500 tech companies is around 16 percent [source]).

Sources: Intel, FT [analyst estimates]





"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer



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