January 15, 2009 / 9:41 PM / in 9 years

UPDATE 2-Intel refrains from Q1 outlook on "uncertainty"

* No Q1 revenue forecast, planning internally for $7 bln

* Q1 Street rev view $7.2 bln

* Q4 EPS 4 cents, versus Street view 4 cents

* Shares up 1.7 percent (Adds analysts’ comments)

By Gabriel Madway

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Intel Corp (INTC.O) refrained from giving detailed financial forecasts for the current quarter, citing economic uncertainty, but the chip maker gave an internal planning figure for revenue at the low end of expectations.

Shares of Intel, the biggest maker of microprocessors that are the brains of personal computers, gained about 1.7 percent in after-hours trading as analysts said the announcement was not as bad as some had feared following two revenue warnings in the past few months.

Intel said it was not providing a revenue outlook for the first quarter, but “for internal purposes, the company is currently planning for revenue in the vicinity of $7 billion.”

Analysts on average had been looking for revenue of $7.2 billion in the quarter, according to Reuters Estimates.

Intel also warned that gross margins will slip into the low 40s percentage because of start-up and underutilization costs.

“Obviously there’s a lot of uncertainty there now,” Morningstar analyst Andy Ng said.

“It definitely doesn’t provide comfort, but the thing to keep in mind is: this is a very cyclical industry, and it’s seen its fair share of downturns and upturns.”

The technology bellwether reported fourth-quarter results that were in line with lowered analyst estimates following a revenue warning last week, its second for the December quarter. [ID:nN07475140]

Profit for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 27 fell to $234 million, or 4 cents a share, from $2.27 billion, or 38 cents a share, in the year-ago period, Intel said. That matched Wall Street’s forecast of 4 cents, according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenue fell to $8.2 billion from $10.7 billion over the same period.

“They were playing it cautious by not officially providing guidance,” said Edwin Mok, an analyst at Needham. “The big surprise was gross margins, which they guided for the low 40s. I‘m concerned that the company is not letting up on its start-up investments in the face of the economic slowdown.”

Intel is the world’s biggest maker of central processing units (CPUs) and its revenue warnings have touched off alarm bells across the technology sector. The company is a component of the Dow Jones industrial average.

Intel shares rose to $13.58 in extended trading from its close of $13.29 on Nasdaq. (Writing by Edwin Chan; editing by Richard Chang and Tiffany Wu)

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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