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Otellini sees slow return to IT normalcy

'2009 was a funny year'

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Despite his company's recent strong financial results, Intel president and CEO Paul Otellini doesn't project a recovery for the corporate market anytime soon.

Speaking about the corporate market with analysts and reporters after Intel released its solid fourth quarter 2009 financial results, Otellini said: "I don't know how it's going to play out."

When asked about Intel's projections for 2010, Otellini said: "We're building into our number set a modest recovery of corporate purchases of PCs. That is, we're not building in...anything extraordinary out of that, just sort of a normal return to deployment as the evaluation cycles for the new hardware and Windows 7 get completed."

Putting on his salesman hat, Otellini touted the efficiencies of Chipzilla's latest round of server processors."What we'll continue to benefit from throughout this year is the extraordinary return on investment that is incurred by deploying new server technologies. The last technology was sort of a nine-to-one ROI kind of technology.

"As we deploy the new Xeon products out, its 15- and 20-to-one. So we think that that is compelling - the power conservation associated with that is compelling - and that's one of the things that gives us an optimism independent of PC refresh in the enterprise for 2010."

But despite the efficiencies he touted, Otellini declined to be specific about when the slumbering IT sector might awaken. "We're all guessing," he said. "No one knows for sure."

But he doesn't think that corporate spending will recover soon or whether IT budgeteers will first spend on PCs or new servers. "We're not programming into our guidance or our estimates any kind of overnight recovery of the corporate market. I think for a variety of reasons that will start coming back, but it will come back based upon eval cycles, qualification cycles in IT shops, and then as corporate budgets open up they have to decide whether they want to first buy PCs or servers in terms of IT equipment. And we really haven't seen enough so far...to be confident on when and what the rate of corporate PC refresh would be."

But after just announcing a fourth-quarter net income of $2.3bn that exceeded Wall Street's estimates, Otellini could afford to give himself the luxury of reminiscing about the recent past in a way that implied that he believes the worst is over. "You know, 2009 was a funny year," he said, "as we all went through and know. The first half of the year the lights had gone off, right?"

Indeed they had. And Intel's president and CEO believes they're coming back on - if only gradually. ®

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