The plunging price of computers is taking only a modest toll on Intel Corp., the company that is outfitting many of those PCs with microprocessor chips.
The company reported today that it earned $1.75 billion, or 51 cents a share, in the second quarter, up sharply from $1.2 billion (33 cents) last year but still two pennies a share off what Wall Street analysts were forecasting.
Revenue jumped 14 percent, to $6.75 billion, also slightly less than had been forecast. "As expected, second-quarter revenue reflected a seasonal slowdown," Intel chief executive Craig Barrett said in a statement.
Mark Edelstone, an analyst with Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, said the earnings and revenue were "a modest surprise, but in the greater scheme of things it's pretty close to a quarter you'd be happy with at this point in time."
Intel stock drifted down 6 1/4 cents to $65.37 1/2 today. The earnings report, issued after the market closed, caused Intel shares to dip about $2 in after-hours trading, but buyers came in and the price recovered.
Intel sometimes acts as a bellwether for the whole high-tech market, sending it up after a strong quarterly report or down after a weak one, but this time could be different.
"I think the market would have responded the same even if they had beaten the forecasts by a penny or two," said Hans Mosesmann of Prudential Securities. "It was already dialed into the stock that this was going to be a seasonal quarter. Investors are focused on outlook. And the outlook's pretty strong."
That's despite Intel's price war with Advanced Micro Devices Inc. to supply chips for the sub-$1,000 PC market. AMD is the big loser here: It is expected to report this week a loss of $200 million, more red ink than was forecast earlier.
Looking ahead, analyst Edelstone saw improvements for the rest of the year for Intel.
"Historically, the number of PCs consumed in the second half of the year is 15 to 20 percent higher, and the business is increasingly becoming more seasonal," he said. "Year over year, Intel is growing 14 percent in revenues, and for a company in a maturing market segment, you have to be happy with that."
CAPTION: Shy of Expectations (This graphic was not available)