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Server unit performs well and APUs remain a promising competitor, despite general losses

Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) still is in a very uncertain position.  Its GPUs are currently getting outpriced and outcompeted by NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA).  On the CPU side, it is shining in certain niches -- heavily threaded applications (with Piledriver server chips) or lightweight, inexpensive mobile CPU+GPU system-on-a-chip designs (with Trinity) -- but in many cases Intel Corp. (INTC) is the better buy.

Add to the mix that AMD is restructuring its leadership and plotting a switch to ARM Holdings Plc.'s (LON:ARM) proprietary CPU architecture, and you have quite a combustible mixture.

But AMD surprised investors with a better than expected fiscal fourth quarter, triggering over a 10 percent jump in the company's stock in today's trading.

Overall analysts expected, after write-offs were considered, that the company would post a loss of $0.20 USD/share ($146M USD), according to a survey of 27 analysts by The Financial Times.  AMD delivered a loss of a mere $0.14 USD/share ($102M USD).  Revenue was $1.16B USD; more in line with analyst expectation of $1.15B USD, a figure that marks a 32 percent drop year-to-year, and 9 percent drop quarter-to-quarter.

For the year 2012 marked a return to losses for AMD, after two years of narrow profitability.


The jump in shares was less a reflection that AMD's performance was good and more of a reflection that it wasn't as bad as was expected.  Overall AMD still has tough questions to answer.  But it can take comfort in that its cost cutting appears to be cutting losses at a faster than expected rate.

AMD is currently laying off 14 percent of its global workforce in a plan that "will be substantially completed in Q1 2013".  Other potentially good news for AMD includes that its report that it renegotiated its agreement with GLOBALFoundries, a move which could lower its operating costs.  

Also in the good news column, AMD reports server revenue rose, thanks in part to fruits of the SeaMicro acquisition.  AMD acquired the niche server maker for $334M USD in March of last year.  SeaMicro specializes in dense, power-efficient custom server designs for markets like cloud computing.  While small, the company is highly regarded in the enterprise sector.

For AMD, the good news is that cash bleed has slowed.  Now the company must refocus itself with a new vision, as it looks to close the wound altogether and seek a path to profitability.

Trinity in the wild
AMD will likely remain focused on APUs like Trinity [center].
[Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech]

Stay tuned as there's also other emerging storylines surrounding the company.  There's the pending allegations of intellectual property theft, which may or may not implicate NVIDIA in receiving AMD GPU secrets.  And late last year, rumors of a potential sale of AMD surfaced.  While those rumors have mostly quieted, AMD's losses could make it a potential acquisition target if the right buyer were to emerge.

Source: FT





"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive



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