Intel's Silence Is AMD's Gold

Chip titan Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) reported a very strong quarter on Tuesday night. But management tiptoed around market share questions, which makes me think that archrival Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD  ) could have a better-than-expected report up its own sleeve.

Intel turned in strong revenue of $10.1 billion, saying that average microprocessor selling prices held steady compared to last quarter, while unit volume increased prodigiously. Gross margins improved because the new 45 nanometer manufacturing lines are now churning out sellable products and getting more efficient along the way.

Paul Otellini can thank system builders like Dell (Nasdaq: DELL  ) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) for some of this success, as they have been breaking systems sales records of their own lately. Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) and its horsepower-hungry Windows Vista operating system should also get a couple of roses or a candy bar.

And then they'll all get a second round of treats after AMD reports earnings tonight, I think. Press releases tend to highlight the tastiest points available, and when management is proud of its achievements, they'll trumpet 'em all over their conference calls.

But Intel didn't volunteer much information about market share, and Otellini answered questions about it in a disarmingly noncommittal manner. So if Intel's volumes were up, but not enough to brag about pie slices, what does that tell us about the competition?

Intel's quarter was great, and AMD's will be pretty decent, too. Maybe not all the way back to profitability, but at least close to it. Good things, that's what. Feel free to carpet-bomb my inbox tomorrow if AMD proves me wrong, but I don't think it'll happen.

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