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AMD Is Back in Black

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"Back in black, I hit the sack
I've been too long -- I'm glad to be back
Yes, I'm let loose from the noose
That's kept me hanging about"
-- From "Back In Black," by AC/DC, 1980

It's been a long time coming, but Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD  ) is firmly back in black.

AMD's first-quarter earnings were positive, whether or not you insist on GAAP accounting. Non-GAAP net income in this case is lower than the GAAP number, because AMD backs out the net impact of the now fully separated manufacturing operation, GlobalFoundries. So pro forma earnings landed at $0.09 per share, up from a $0.30 loss per share a year ago.

You may remember a slight pro forma loss attributable to AMD common shareholders last quarter when you discount the decidedly one-time windfall of $1.25 billion from Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) in a legal settlement. However, under manufacturing-free results, last quarter was actually profitable to the tune of $0.11 per share.

The positive effect of that adjustment shows AMD in a new and much healthier light. Assuming that the company can keep the pedal to the metal with strong sales -- total revenue of $1.6 billion was an impressive 33% improvement over the year-ago period -- there's no reason to believe that AMD will fall back in the red anytime soon.

And the company has plenty of tools on hand to keep the fires burning. As GlobalFoundries ramps up its next-generation 32-nanometer manufacturing process, the long-awaited AMD Fusion products will roll out in mass-production in the back half of this year. "Select customers," presumably including AMD's largest clients like Dell (Nasdaq: DELL  ) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) , have already received samples of these chips and should be working up some new systems on that basis.

In case you forgot, Fusion puts the media-processing heft of the ATI graphics division to work directly in the central processor, while also opening up new ways to introduce specialized helper chips into the mix. This could be a repeat of the glory days in 2003, when AMD stole Intel's performance and innovation crowns with the Athlon 64 processor and then saw its share price produce a mind-blowing 600% return over the next three years.

"Could" is a long way from "will," mind you, and it will take at least three more quarters before AMD sees any benefits from Fusion and 32-nm factories. By then, we'll know a lot more about what Fusion can do and how it will affect the market, so I'd suggest holding off on backing up the truck until we've seen some more pudding.

Would you buy AMD today? You'll get a nice 7% discount based on pessimism toward today's earnings. Value investors might prefer Intel at this point, growth gurus would be better off looking to a smaller more lightly followed semiconductor player Atheros Communications (Nasdaq: ATHR  ) , and Google might fill both of those tickets better than AMD. But that's just my humble opinion -- tell us what you think in the comments below.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Google and AMD, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. Yes, hard rock lyrics qualify for the National Poetry Month treatment. Intel is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Atheros Communications is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation. The Fool has created a covered strangle position on Intel. Motley Fool Options has recommended a buy calls position on Intel. The Fool owns shares of Atheros Communications. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.

Read/Post Comments (4) | Recommend This Article (10)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On April 16, 2010, at 1:01 PM, actue wrote:

    If you back out the one time, non-recurring, non-cash accounting adjustment, AMD lost money for the 13th quarter in a row. Meanwhile, their main competitor earned around $3,000,000,000 quarter after quarter over the same period. Their 32nm process is barely a dream at this point. Their margins are 20% below Intel's and they are still losing market share. AMD is not even a basket case. How in the world can anybody paint this positively.....Ah....misleading others to support a long position in AMD.....Could that be the case

  • Report this Comment On April 16, 2010, at 4:11 PM, TEBuddy wrote:

    actue, you are just wrong for one, and you paint yourself as an AMD short position and Long on Intel.

    A dream, what do you know of the semi business? Nothing????? Go get your facts straight, and quit being stupid. Intel is a decietful company, and it has rewarded them quarter after quarter, but AMD has driven the technology growth of the entire world in every sector.

    AMDs amazing products are just about to take off and are already the most efficient processors in the world. How do you figure they are losing market share? Reading stories from stupid analysts and copying their words?

  • Report this Comment On April 16, 2010, at 5:24 PM, rlm3156 wrote:

    TEBuddy, have u heard of WiMax Technology?

  • Report this Comment On April 17, 2010, at 11:11 AM, BigHackAttack wrote:

    Nope, I wouldn't buy AMD, but I **might** be willing to own a few shares if someone wants to give them to me.

    If you ain't the lead dog, the view never changes.

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