Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) is an unquestioned titan of the tech industry. Everybody knows that it's the largest chipmaker in the world, even while tablets and smartphones are supposed to be killing the traditional PC industry. The company rarely flubs an earnings report, and the average analyst believes that Intel shares are undervalued today. Some 94% of your fellow Foolish investors expect the stock to beat the market in the near future, yielding Intel 4 stars out of 5 in our CAPS system.
All of this is common knowledge. But the company comes with a rich and deep history, too, steeped in surprises. We asked a panel of Motley Fool contributors to pinpoint their favorite bits of Intel trivia, and... well, see for yourself. I bet you'll learn something new right here:
Dan Caplinger (Dividend trend-setter): Tech stocks aren't generally known for their dividends, but Intel has done a good job of rewarding its shareholders with consistent and growing payouts over time. With a yield of 3.3%, Intel is solidly in the top half of the stocks in the Dow Jones Industrials, and the company raised its dividend earlier this year by nearly 7%.
In fact, Intel was on the cutting edge among new-era tech stocks to implement a dividend. Beginning in 1992, Intel paid regular quarterly dividends to shareholders, and although the initial amount was a relative pittance that mostly gave income-oriented stock mutual funds an opportunity to include Intel shares among their holdings, the tech giant consistently boosted its dividend over the years. The chipmaker really started accelerating its payout growth in 2004, when it doubled its previous dividend and began a streak of increases that led to a tenfold jump in less than a decade.
Going forward, some have questioned whether Intel can sustain its past dividend growth. Yet with the company paying out less than 40% of its earnings in the form of dividends, Intel seems to be in no danger whatsoever of being forced to make a dividend cut. If the company can find a viable long-term strategy, Intel should continue to make dividend investors happy for the foreseeable future.
Anders Bylund (stable leadership): Some companies have a revolving door installed at the CEO office. Most have a slower pace of turnover in the top spot. And some businesses hold on to their leaders for a very long time.
Intel is one of those places where a CEO can expect to hold that office for quite a while.
OK, so current Intel CEO Brian Krzanich is still pretty fresh. Installed in Santa Clara's fanciest corner office as recently as May 2012, Krzanich only has three years and change of CEO experience under his belt.
But he's hardly a newcomer. Intel promotes from within; Krzanich started his climb up the company's career ladder in 1982, when personal computing was a brand-new idea. It was Sinclair Spectrum vs. the Commodore 64, folks. The very first Intel-based PC had been introduced the previous year. In short, Krzanich knows his way around Intel's offices.
Krzanich's predecessor, Paul Otellini, started at Intel in 1974. The company was 6 years old at the time. Otellini took the CEO title in 2005, after rising through the ranks for 21 years.
Before Otellini, Craig Barrett had held the CEO job since 1998. Andy Grove served as CEO from 1987 to 1998. Gordon Moore, as in Moore's Law, led the company between 1975 and 1987, preceded only by Robert Noyce.
I lumped Barrett, Grove, Moore, and Noyce together because they were all part of Intel from day one. Co-founders, industry legends, names any semiconductor investor must know by heart.
That's a grand total of 6 CEOs in 47 years. Excluding Krzanich's recent appointment, your average Intel CEO has held the job for nearly a full decade. And even the newcomers have always -- and I mean, without exception -- brought decades of Intel experience along to the top post.
Look up "job security" in the dictionary, and it'll probably say "Intel CEO." That's a rare luxury in Silicon Valley, and it lets the CEO plan for the very long term. The board won't kick Krzanich out for flunking a couple of quarterly reports, but they do give him the resources needed to keep winning for the next decade or two.
Daniel B. Kline (the man who created the company invented the first practical microchip): Bill Gates gets his props for his role in the invention of the personal computer. It's part of both his company and industry lore in a way that romanticizes the events. Intel co-founder Robert Noyce receives none of the same acclaim. His position in history and the industry should be, if not equal to Gates, at least comparable. The inventor/entrepreneur has a story that's equally worthy of being part of American folklore.
The inventor got a very early start with his craft and he was curious as to how things worked from a young age.
"I was easily bored if something wasn't going on," explained Noyce in a biographical video produced by Intel, "so my mother used to send me outside to take things apart."
He took that innate curiosity to Grinnell College, where he studied physics, then later to M.I.T. to earn his Ph.D. He then worked at a series of companies in the technology space, gaining the skills he would need to create the integrated chip, a major milestone along the way to the microprocessors in today's computers.
"I say that the integrated circuit came out of my own laziness," he said in the video. "We took those transistors that were all nicely arranged on a piece of silicon and cut them into tiny little pieces and then shipped them to the customer and they put them all right back together again. Why not just cut out all of that?"
Noyce died of heart failure in 1990, at the age of 62, but the company he helped found is still going strong.