Intel Corporation Takes No Prisoners This Earnings Season

Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC  ) reported its earnings shortly after the close on July 15, and the results were a veritable blowout. The company slightly edged out the midpoint of its revenue guidance, coming in at $13.8 billion against guidance midpoint of $13.7 billion. Moreover, the company saw its gross margins for the quarter hit 64.5% -- slightly edging out the revised expectations of 64%. More surprisingly, though, is that the company is guiding for gross margins of 66% in the coming quarter and 63% for the remainder of the year.

Folks, this is a veritable blowout.

PC Client Group nails it
Let's start with the PC Client Group – Intel's largest operating segment. The company saw revenue here grow 6% with units up 9%, partially offset by a 4% decline in average selling price. This PC strength looks to have been broad based across both notebooks and desktops, with volumes up 9% and 8%, respectively. Interestingly enough, desktop average selling prices were up 2% but notebook selling prices were down 7%.

The decline in notebook average selling prices was likely due to significant share gains against both the ARM (NASDAQ: ARMH  ) camp as well as rival Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ: AMD  ) in the low-cost notebook space with its Bay Trail-M/D platforms. Intel's share position in this space should only improve as the company rolls out its next generation Braswell platform on its 14-nanometer manufacturing technology and a revamped architecture in Q1 2015.

Datacenter group rips the cover off the ball
At Intel's most recent analyst day, the company guided for low-teens revenue growth for its very lucrative datacenter business. However, after Q1 came in lower than expected, the company lowered expectations to low double-digit growth for the full year. However, Intel apparently set the bar too low and growth in this business registered at 19% year-over-year.

Interestingly enough, DCG – which had seen revenue growth principally due to a continued mix-shift upward – saw a double-whammy this quarter. Average selling prices were up 11% year over year and volumes were up 9% year over year. Considering this has traditionally been a close-to 50% operating margin business, this did wonders for the bottom line – datacenter group operating income was up 40% year-over year.

Internet of Things, mobile, software, and other – a mixed, but small, bag
Intel's Internet of things group saw revenues up 24% on a year-over-year basis, and considering that this is a highly profitable business, it was a welcome addition to the bottom line. Since Intel is leveraging its Atom and Core designs, this is a business that scales very nicely.

The company's software and services group saw pretty meager year-over-year revenue growth of about 3%, and operating income moved from a slight loss to a slight profit. Nothing to write home about, but as long as it's not doing any damage to the core business, investors shouldn't worry (or expect) too much.

The ugly duckling of the bunch was the Mobile & Communications Group which saw revenues plunge 83% on a year over year basis and 67% sequentially. The operating loss in this group widened significantly to about $1.124 billion – driven both by lower sales/volumes in 2G/3G cellular chips as well as the contra revenue associated with the Bay Trail-T tablet platform ramp. This doesn't look great today, but as the contra-revenue evaporates by next year and as Intel's LTE solutions hit their full stride, the year over year comparison next year should look quite nice.

A killer buyback program – but why wasn't it sooner?
Intel also took the opportunity to announce a monstrous buyback program to the tune of $20 billion – with $4 billion of it set to be executed over the next quarter. This is fantastic, and very similar to what Apple did last quarter. But of course, like Apple, it's a little irritating that the biggest buyback comes when the stock is marching on to new highs.

That being said, it's hard to complain too much. The business trajectory looks great, the stock – based on these new estimates – still looks cheap, and the buyback at the very least should take down the share count, further driving EPS upside.

Foolish bottom line
Intel really delivered to its shareholders. Though the improving PC market is certainly a big part of this, it's fantastic to see that Intel isn't just benefiting from the total addressable market improving, but it is still taking market share with its products. Further, even as much has been made of the ARM server threat, the bottom line is that Intel is executing flawlessly in the datacenter by putting out compelling product after compelling product, driving units and mix up. 

The next thing that Intel needs to tackle is getting mobile to profitability, but with PC Client Group and Data Center Group doing so well, Intel can afford to be even more aggressive about taking share first and getting to profitability later.

All in all – a fantastic quarter from Intel.

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Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On July 15, 2014, at 6:43 PM, ta152h wrote:

    I'm not as sure as you are that Intel is doing so well with the Bay Trail.

    For one, it's not a good product. But, more importantly, the gross margins would not have gone up if it were very successful; it would have gone down quite a bit.

    In terms of Intel releasing compelling products, I can't agree. They've had great products since Conroe (Core 2). Haswell is a great product, but actually disappointing considering it built on Ivy Bridge, which was a great product, as it built on Sandy Bridge, a fantastically good product.

    Bay Trail is a lousy product that Intel has to pay for people to use. Yeah, it's that bad. You don't pay people to use Haswell, they wait in line for it.

    Again, the margins do not indicate success for Bay Trail, but for Haswell.

    Intel's new overclocking Pentium is just another example of a fantastic product, at a great price. $72 for this just boggles the mind. You'd consider a Bay Trail, or Kaveri instead? Only the latter if you needed the iGPU, which isn't really the case very often. Even the (Haswell) Celerons are very, very powerful chips, and are very inexpensive to buy.

    These chips moving into new markets, and even the i3 Chromebooks are probably the push behind Intel. They are cheap to make, and perform very well for their size and power envelope.

    Bay Trail? It's fairly large, performs very poorly, although does have nice power characteristics. So, there's a market, very low power for x86, but it's much smaller than the splendid Haswell based processors.

    Again, the margins do indicate this. They aren't getting 60% plus on their contra funded Bay Trails, I wouldn't think. Too big for what they sell them for.

  • Report this Comment On July 15, 2014, at 10:45 PM, TraderHorn wrote:


    You understand there are two types of Bay Trail products, right? Mobile products, such as tablets, and desktop and laptop products. The first has the contra revenue offsets. The second does not.

    They were very specific on the call that Bay Trail has been a standout product that has got them into market segments they've never really competed in before. I don't know how you could come away from the call with any other impression. It quite literally started with Bay Trail.

  • Report this Comment On July 16, 2014, at 4:57 AM, jchoopster wrote:


    First, thank you for your insightful articles...I have been following your articles for over a year and they are a key reason for my investment in Intel.

    Now for the question: I know that dividends must be paid out of Intel's cash that is within its US division. For stock buybacks, are they under the same limitations...or can they use their world wide cash to fund the buyback?

    My thanks in advance...

  • Report this Comment On July 16, 2014, at 9:24 AM, TMFAeassa wrote:


    Thanks for the kind words! Buybacks need to come from U.S. cash as well.

    Fool on,


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Ashraf Eassa

Ashraf Eassa is a technology specialist with The Motley Fool. He writes mostly about technology stocks, but is especially interested in anything related to chips -- the semiconductor kind, that is. Follow him on Twitter:

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