There has been a lot of -- frankly, well-deserved -- pessimism around the PC market. Sales of PCs look as though they will decline year-over-year in 2015, which is what forced Intel (INTC 0.43%), a chipmaker heavily dependent on the PC market, to lower its full year revenue outlook for the year.
With that in mind, it seems as though the risk that Intel comes in materially below its current forecasts and lowers its guidance even further are fairly low. Here's why.
A little background, first
To understand why Intel should be able to hit its third quarter numbers, it's important to understand the industry dynamics that Intel management had previously told investors to expect.
During the first and second quarters of 2015, Intel saw its PC processor customers (think large PC manufacturers) reduce their PC inventories to clear the way for new products based on Windows 10 and Intel's new Skylake processors, impacting the chip maker's PC processor sales.
Intel executives have also said that as a result of this inventory reduction during the first half of 2015, the company's PC customers are expected to replenish their inventory levels during the second half of the year, driving improved processor sales.
With that in mind, allow me to explain why there looks to be a good chance that Intel will, at the very least, make its numbers this quarter.
The Skylake shortage speaks volumes
As many who have actually tried to buy one of the first Skylake chips released would likely be able to tell you, getting ahold of Skylake (particularly the higher-end Core i7 parts) is surprisingly difficult.
For example, although the supply situation around the lower-end Core i5-6600K seems to have improved, the Core i7-6700K -- which offers significantly more performance and is likely more difficult to produce given the more aggressive performance specifications -- is still quite hard to find, even about a month after it launched.
From this, it would seem as though Intel is having trouble satisfying the demand for its Skylake-based processors.
What could potentially be happening is that Intel has its hands full trying to get all of the good Skylake chips that it can produce to the major PC vendors, leaving relatively few processors for "do it yourself" PC enthusiasts to buy.
If we saw good availability right out of the gate of these boxed, PC enthusiast-oriented chips, then this wouldn't necessarily mean that the "inventory replenishment" phenomenon isn't happening; it could just mean that Intel has been able to bring supply and demand into balance early on.
However, if Intel is struggling to meet demand for these boxed processors, then this could mean that Intel has its hands full trying to fill the orders of the major PC vendors first.
What's the bottom line?
Current analyst estimates for Intel's third quarter call for $14.25 billion in revenue, which is about in-line with Intel's guidance of $14.3 billion give-or-take $500 million. This means that the general sentiment among Street analysts is that Intel is on track to deliver results about in-line with its guidance.
That being said, although this analysis gives me confidence that Intel should report at least in-line results for the third quarter, I don't think we can reasonably infer much more beyond this from this apparent shortage of Skylake chips.