| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Texas Instruments Inc gave a lukewarm outlook for the current quarter, suggesting that back-to-school sales of computers and other consumer electronics would be weaker than normal.
The company, whose chips are found in many products ranging from cellphones to cars, said its computing and consumer electronics customers were ordering fewer chips than usual for this time of year due to U.S. and European economic concerns.
But it said that while manufacturers were holding off on making products ahead of the back-to-school sales period, there was still time for them to ramp up ahead of the year-end holiday shopping season.
"We're seeing a somewhat more muted outlook from computer customers and consumer areas such as TV and gaming," Chief Financial Officer Kevin March told Reuters. "We're not seeing the signals we'd normally see at this time of year."
But the executive said that if demand improves TI will have its factories ready to take advantage of this. He also said the current economic uncertainty may not necessarily mean slow holiday sales.
"I don't think we're going to wind up with a Christmas without any gifts under the tree. The (store shelves) may just end up filling later," he said.
Computing represents about 23 percent of TI's revenue while consumer products bring in roughly 10 percent, its investor relations executive Ron Slaymaker told analysts on a conference call.
TI is also seeing weak sales to automotive U.S. clients who are having a hard time procuring all the parts they need due to shortages after the Japan earthquake earlier this year, said Slaymaker. He said it was not clear if any consumer demand weakness was also a factor in weak automotive chip sales.
Despite the cautious tone from the chip maker, TI shares rose a few cents in after-hours trade as some investors were relieved that the outlook was not as bad as they had expected.
"People were nervous going into the quarter about the potential for a soft second half and issues from Japan," said Sanford Bernstein analyst Stacy Rasgon, noting that investors were relieved even though revenue guidance was "a little light versus consensus."
TI forecast third-quarter revenue of $3.4 billion to $3.7 billion. This implies a midpoint of $5.5 billion, which was below the average analyst expectation for $3.6 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
It forecast earnings per share for the quarter of 55 cents to 65 cents, a wider than usual guidance range for the company.
This compares with second-quarter earnings of $672 million, or 56 cents per share, and $769 million, or 62 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.
Revenue fell to $3.46 billion from almost $3.5 billion but was slightly ahead of analysts' consensus forecast of $3.44 billion, Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Excluding sales of wireless baseband chips, which TI is winding down, the company said the second quarter turned out better than it had expected.
TI had slashed its revenue outlook in June as Nokia, its biggest baseband customer was losing out in the smartphone market.
TI shares rose to $31.50 in extended trading after closing at $31.47 on the New York Stock Exchange.
(Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Richard Chang)