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Intel coffers rebound from first half beating

Profits down. Hopes up

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The theme of Intel's third quarter earnings today is paying no mind to last year and focusing on how much better things are compared to Q2.

Chipzilla is indeed doing much better sequentially. But to finger the issue more precisely, Intel had suffered a particularly awful second quarter this year. (It was also hit with a $1.45bn antitrust fine imposed by the European Commission). Now, conditions seems to be improving, although they still look poor when compared to Q3 of 2008, when Intel posted its highest revenue ever for that quarter and described the economic crisis as "creating stress that may impact our business."

Intel's financial boss Stacy Smith called the three months ended June 27 "exceptional" (but that's his job, isn't it?). He attributes Intel's healing coffers to a return of PC sales, improved factory output and costs, and lower unit costs across all lines of businesses than anticipated.

Intel chief executive Paul Otellini said it was "the right products, at the right time, for a recovering global economy." He later added that he "wouldn't argue" with some third-party forecasts for PC unit growth of 10 per cent or more in 2010.

Net revenue in Q3 was $9.4bn, an 8 per cent drop versus $10.2bn year-over-year. On the other paw, its the largest second-to-third quarter revenue growth in over 30 years for Intel. The 8 per cent drop is also an improvement from the 15 per cent and 26 per cent year-over-year declines in the first and second quarter respectively.

Intel's net income for the quarter was $1.9bn, down versus $2bn year-over-year. Operating income in Q3 was $2.6bn, compared to $3.1bn in the same period last year.

Enterprise microprocessor revenue for the quarter was $3.87bn, down from $4.07bn year-over-year. Laptop and mobile device chip revenue was $2.92bn, down from $3.39bn year-over-year.

Otellini said while sales of Atom microprocessors and chipsets for low-cost netbooks and PCs continue to expand, traditional notebooks continue to lead mobile growth in terms of revenue. Atom revenue was $415m in Q3 2009, compared to $200m in the year-ago quarter.

The chief executive added that the back-to-school selling season "exceeded expectations."

The company's gross margin, a favorite bellwether amongst industry watchers, rose seven per cent to a total of 57.6 per cent. It's above what Wallstreet was expecting but below the 58.9 per cent reported in the same quarter last year.

From a global perspective, Intel experienced a small decline in all regions. China continues to dominate chip demand:

Revenue %
Asia-Pacific $5.32bn 57%
Europe $1.33bn 14%
Americas $1.82bn 19%
Japan $917m 10%

Revenue from Wind River (the embedded OS supplier Intel purchased for $844m in June) was $36m, about what the company said it expected. Costs during the quarter associated with the acquisition was $11m.

For next quarter, the chip giant predicts revenue of $10.1bn, plus or minus $400m. Because Q4 2009 was when things really started getting heinous for Intel, that would compare with $8.2bn net revenue year-over-year.

Intel breaks out the earnings charts right here (PDF). ®

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