I thought this second-quarter report would be something special, and Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) didn't disappoint.

The blaring headline of the press release, "Intel Reports Best Quarter Ever," set the tone for what was to come: a 34% year-over-year revenue jump to $10.8 billion fueled a staggering 183% earnings improvement to $0.51 per share. That's non-GAAP numbers, because comparing this stellar quarter to the $1.45 billion EU fine imposed on Intel a year ago (my, how time flies) would just look too good.

This wasn't some fluke performance by a single product, but a broad surge of demand for everything from netbooks to desktops to servers. Gross margins of 67% blew management's expectations out of the water, resting on both manufacturing efficiencies and rising average prices per processor sold. Normal seasonal patterns are nowhere in sight, and CEO Paul Otellini expects the gravy train to keep on rolling throughout the year. In fact, Intel is spending about $400 million more on manufacturing equipment this year than originally planned, just to keep up with demand.

All of this underlines what Novellus (Nasdaq: NVLS) CEO Richard Hill said about tech demand earlier this week: "We're watching our customers. And we think overall the trend is positive." In other words, I'd expect to see companies in the tech sector meeting, beating, and making fun of predictions left and right this earnings season. Everyone will ride the wave that Intel caught.

And the market would agree, anthropomorphically speaking:


Opening Price Change

CAPS Rating (out of 5)







ARM Holdings (Nasdaq: ARMH)



Dell (Nasdaq: DELL)



Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT)



Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN)



Source: CAPS.

Intel's good news pulled entire industries up by the bootstraps, from direct competitors to Intel's partners across hardware, software, and consumer-level sectors.

The stage is set for a tremendously interesting earnings season. Intel set the bar mighty high; it will be tough for anybody of note to top this performance. But I'd like to see them try.

Which reports will follow Intel's lead, and who will go astray? Cast your bones in the comments below.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Intel and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. NVIDIA is a Stock Advisor recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Intel and Motley Fool Options has recommended buying calls on its shares. Motley Fool Options has also recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft's stock. 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.