Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) stock rallied more than 40% over the past 12 months, breaking its decade-long streak of stagnant price performance. Those solid gains can be attributed to the company's streak of solid earnings, optimism regarding its progress in tablets and data centers, and rising market demand for semiconductors.
But looking ahead to the next ten years, will Intel stock keep rising, or will it stagnate again? Let's take a look at three businesses beyond PCs -- foundries, mobile devices, and the Internet of Things -- which could affect Intel's long term outlook.
The foundry business
Back in 2002, 25 companies manufactured 130-nm silicon chips worldwide. But as chips became smaller and harder to manufacture, the cost of outfitting a silicon fab rose from $2-3 billion to $10-$12 billion over the past decade.
As a result, many companies went "fabless" -- designing their own chips but outsourcing the manufacturing process to foundries. Today, only four companies -- Intel, Samsung (NASDAQOTH:SSNLF), TSMC (NYSE:TSM), and GlobalFoundries -- can still afford to manufacture the newest 14 and 16-nm chips. The rapid consolidation of this market means that the fabless players now have fewer partnering options for foundries.
In the past, Intel refused to manufacture chips for competitors. However, Brian Krzanich, who took over as CEO in 2013, broke with tradition and started allowing rivals to use its foundries. Last year, Intel signed major foundry deals with Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) and Panasonic.
Since Intel only recently opened its doors to other companies, its foundry business doesn't generate meaningful revenue yet. But looking further down the road, JPMorgan -- which expects Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to possibly sign a foundry deal with Intel -- forecasts that Intel's foundry business could account for 6% of its top line by 2017. Ten years down the road, that percentage could rise significantly higher as Intel inks more deals.
The mobile business
Intel is currently the undisputed king of PCs, with its chips powering 98.5% of servers, 81.8% of desktops, and 90.3% of notebooks worldwide, according to IDC.
However, Intel missed a major technological shift several years ago when ARM Holdings (NASDAQ:ARMH) started licensing out its low power consumption chip designs to other companies. As a result, ARM's partners conquered the rapidly growing smartphone and tablet markets.
Last year, companies like Lenovo, Asus, and Dell introduced Intel-powered smartphones and tablets, but that comeback was fueled by heavy subsidies. To convince these partners to use its Atom chips, Intel offered steep chip discounts, co-marketing agreements, and even financial assistance for redesigning Atom-compatible logic boards. That costly strategy caused Intel's mobile division to post an operating loss of $4.2 billion in fiscal 2014 -- down from a loss of $3.1 billion a year earlier.
Intel claims that it will eventually phase out these subsidies, but doing so could cause it to quickly lose ground again to ARM. Therefore, investors should expect Intel's mobile division to continue operating at widening losses for the foreseeable future.
The Internet of Things
Burned by its previous defeat in mobile devices, Intel is currently trying to leapfrog over ARM with wearables and embedded devices that tap into the Internet of Things (IoT) -- a market which IDC forecasts will grow from $1.9 trillion in 2013 to $7.1 trillion in 2020.
Intel is doing this by manufacturing tiny new chips like the Quark, which can be installed in wearables and smart appliances, and investing in wearable devices. Last year, Intel signed smartwatch partnerships with Fossil (NASDAQ:FOSL) and Opening Ceremony, developed biometric headphones with SMS Audio, and launched its own fitness-tracking smartwatch, the Basis Peak. All those moves could help Intel expand from its slower growth PC market into the higher growth IoT one.
Unlike its money-losing mobile business, Intel's IoT business is profitable. In fiscal 2014, Intel's IoT revenue rose 19% year-over-year to $2.1 billion, and operating income grew 12% to $616 million. The IoT segment only accounted for roughly 4% of Intel's revenue and operating income, but its weight will likely increase over the next ten years as demand for embedded and wearable devices rise.
The long term view
Over the next decade, the weight distribution of Intel's business segments will shift. Intel's PC Client and Data Center groups will certainly remain its bread and butter, but smaller businesses like foundries, mobile chips, embedded chips, and wearable devices should eventually become more significant.
For now, Intel remains a solid income investment, with a forward annual dividend yield of 2.5%, for conservative investors. The stock is fairly cheap at 15 times forward earnings, and its business is built on a core of steady growth businesses complemented by smaller ones with higher growth potential.
Leo Sun owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Cisco Systems, Fossil, and Intel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Intel. 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.
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