This is set to be a record year in terms of both revenue and earnings per share for chip giant Intel (INTC 0.30%), with the company forecasting those figures at $71.2 billion and $4.53 (on a non-GAAP basis), respectively.
"As we look forward to 2019, we expect to deliver another record year for the company," CFO and interim CEO Bob Swan said during the company's Oct. 25 earnings conference call. The executive promised that investors would get more detailed financial guidance for 2019 when it reports its fourth-quarter results in January.
During the call, Swan provided insight into some of the challenges -- he referred them specifically as "headwinds" -- that the company must cope with during 2019. Let's take a closer look at them.
A high bar to clear
Swan said that "this has been a fantastic year for us and I think for the industry, and that makes the [comparisons] a little bit tougher as we go into next year."
Indeed, if Intel hits its revenue and EPS guidance, it'll be looking at almost 13.4% revenue growth -- the fastest that the company has seen in years -- and about 31% EPS growth. The baseline from which Intel needs to deliver growth, as a result, is significantly higher than it was for 2018.
For what it's worth, analysts expect Intel's revenue growth to climb just 3% in 2019 with non-GAAP EPS inching up to $4.56 from $4.53 -- less than 1% growth. So they're betting that Intel's revenue and EPS growth cools significantly in 2019.
Next, Swan said that the company faces "growing competition" and that "[growing] competition can be a headwind for us."
Addressing this further, Swan said that with respect to processor average selling price (ASP) trends in 2019, "[we] don't expect ASPs to be dramatically better in an increasingly competitive environment, but we don't expect them to be much worse."
For reference, Intel reported that over the year to date, its notebook platform ASPs had grown 2%, desktop ASPs had risen 10%, and its data center platform ASPs had grown 10%. Indeed, while both Intel's data center group and its notebook platform businesses also enjoyed unit shipment growth of 15% and 5%, respectively, Intel's desktop platform unit shipments were down 5% year over year.
Average selling price growth has been a meaningful part of Intel's revenue growth story in 2018.
With that all being said, Swan did say on the call that with respect to the more intense competition, "our expectations are we'll deal with that pretty effectively."
Did somebody say tariffs?
Here's what Swan said about the company's third headwind in 2019:
And third, just global trade, in particular, as you know, China is a big market for us. We've got some important customers there, and it's an important part of our global supply chain. So as this most recent round of tariffs play out, and we're doing a lot of work with our customers to ensure that the global supply chain can be adjusted and adapted to deal with any tariffs that come down the way. But I think it's going to be a wait-and-see as we go into 2019.
By way of reference, here's Intel's 2017 revenue broken down by geographic region :
|Region||Revenue (in Millions)||Percent of Total|
|China (including Hong Kong)||$14,796||23.6%|
As you can see in the table above, Intel's revenue from China made up 23.6% of the company's total in 2017, so it's not surprising that Intel management is keeping an eye on the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China.
"At this stage of the game, we don't see any impact on 2018's results," Swan said. "And in 2019, we have what I consider a world-class supply chain team that can manage and weather the dynamics of changes in movement of goods better than anybody else in the industry."