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Intel Embarrasses the Naysayers

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On Tuesday, Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) reported EPS of $0.59, up 37% year-over-year. Revenue of $12.9 billion grew 25% and came in well above the consensus estimate of $11.6 billion. Management forecasts second-quarter revenue of $12.3 billion to $13.3 billion, again smashing consensus estimates of $11.9 billion.

A 14-week quarter (instead of the usual 13), strong corporate demand, and emerging markets contributed to the strength despite several challenges. Headwinds included problems with its new Sandy Bridge processor, weak PC demand in mature markets, and the devastation in Japan.

The news seemed to erase a lot of concerns. Intel approached gains of nearly 8% in late trading and several analysts raised their price target on the stock.

Much of the discussion on the earnings call centered on datacenter demand and emerging markets. For the quarter, datacenter group revenue grew 32% while PC client group revenue grew only 17%.

Emerging markets represent more than 50% of Intel's business. Management said much of the business in these markets goes to "white box" (no-name) PC makers and therefore is not accurately counted by researchers such as Gartner and IDC. Management acknowledged demand in the U.S. and Europe is weakening thanks to both economic worries and a shift to tablets.

There's a strong case to be made that the demand shift to emerging markets will pressure Intel less than other Wintel members. Lenovo and white box PC makers present a direct challenge for established PC makers like Dell (Nasdaq: DELL  ) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) . China-based Lenovo bought IBM's PC business in 2005.

But white box makers need basic components. That suggests component suppliers such as Intel, AMD (NYSE: AMD  ) , Seagate (Nasdaq: STX  ) , and Western Digital (NYSE: WDC  ) can garner a greater share of emerging market demand than PC makers such as Dell and HP. And Microsoft may have less to lose than hardware makers, as software piracy has long dampened its business in emerging markets.

The shift to tablets is a lingering concern. Revenue for Intel's Atom microprocessor and chipset for mobile devices was a mere $370 million and grew only 4% year-over-year. Management sounded optimistic about potential design wins before year's end, but investors are likely to remain skeptical.

Foolish takeaway
Near-term trends seem to favor Intel, but the shift to tablets is a long-term concern that shouldn't be ignored. To help you monitor this issue, The Motley Fool recently introduced a free My Watchlist feature that helps you stay ahead of the curve. To get up-to-date news and analysis on these companies, add them to your Watchlist today:

Fool contributor Cindy Johnson currently owns shares of Microsoft. Intel and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. The Fool owns shares of and has bought calls on Intel. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Intel. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of Microsoft, and Western Digital. Alpha Newsletter Account, LLC owns shares of Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (4)

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 21, 2011, at 7:42 PM, LucaC wrote:

    "the shift to tablets is a long-term concern that shouldn't be ignored."

    Are you sure a SHIFT TO tablets is what's happening right now? Tablets are bought by people who already have a traditional computer. When your laptop/desktop pc dies, will you just buy a tablet and nothing else? Or another laptop/desktop pc?

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2011, at 8:02 PM, TheDumbMoney wrote:

    I personally know people who are not buying a new laptop, because you can now get an iPad, with a leather carrying case that incorporates a stand and a built-in superthin bluetooth keyboard, and they did that instead.

  • Report this Comment On April 21, 2011, at 11:14 PM, shelwill wrote:

    I own an iPad. It's not a laptop replacement. Most websites don't load because it doesn't support flash.

    I find the best use is casually going through email but doing real work still requires a laptop to be fully productive.

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