In TheStreet, contributor Richard Saintvilus argues that the risk to Intel's (NASDAQ:INTC) business associated with a weak PC market are "outweighed" by the potential payoff of the company's Internet of Things-related push. Although I agree that Intel has businesses outside of the PC market that are becoming increasingly important, I'd argue that its Internet of Things business can't offset PC-related declines in the near to medium term.
Putting things into financial perspective
In 2014, Intel's PC business brought in about $34.67 billion in sales while its Internet of Things group took in $2.142 billion in revenue. At its 2014 analyst day, the company said that it expects the Internet of Things group to see an "uptick in growth" from the growth it expected to see in 2014 (18% at the time of the presentation; the actual number was 18.93%).
Let's, for the sake of argument, call that 20% growth. This amounts to $428 million in incremental revenue if the company hits the projections it set forth last year.
Now, note that Intel -- after slashing its revenue guidance for the year back in March -- claims that the PC market is expected to decline by "mid-single digits." Even if we gave Intel the benefit of the doubt and assumed that its PC sales are set to decline by "just" 5% this year (although at this point, the decline is widely expected to be meaningfully worse), that's a revenue decline on the order of $1.73 billion.
In a nutshell, while Intel can certainly use all the help it can get to offset declines in the PC market, the Internet of Things market alone won't be able to make up the difference.
Internet of Things, mobile, and data centers, on the other hand...
The problem for Intel is that its PC processor business is absolutely enormous, which means that in order to counteract a decline in that segment, it needs a lot of growth from other businesses. Intel's Data Center Group is quite large ($14.387 billion in sales in 2014) and is growing at a nice rate (15%-plus for the next few years according to Intel), so that certainly helps.
The growth from Intel's Internet of Things, Data Center, and NAND flash groups combined are able to roughly counteract the expected declines in the PC market. This is why, even after revising its PC forecast to a mid-single-digit decline during 2015, Intel is projecting flat revenues for the year, although if PCs decline by more than that, we could see a further downward guidance revision.
However, if Intel can get significant chunks of the $4.2 billion tablet chip market and the $20.9 billion smartphone chip market (both numbers via Strategy Analytics), then those -- combined with all of Intel's other growth areas -- could help Intel grow consistently even if the PC market continues to slump.
Intel can thrive long term, but it might be rough in the near term
I'm not expecting a big recovery in the shares this year, but I do think there's a reasonable chance that the shares will trade significantly higher than they currently do over the next few years.
I'm not going to add additional Intel shares to my portfolio (it is currently my largest position), but I have no immediate plans to sell any portion of my position, either.