Street expecting blowout quarter from Intel

Intel Corp. shares moved up 10 1/16 to an all-time high of 139 3/4 Monday, one day before the world's largest chipmaker announces its fourth-quarter results.

And so far all signs point to a breakout quarter. First Call consensus pegs the company to earn $1.07 a share, though most "whisper" numbers circulating through Wall Street put the earnings at closer to $1.15 a share.

Analysts are especially hopeful this time around because strong PC demand has eroded what was a flood of chips on the worldwide market. Furthermore, Intel itself has guided the investment community higher since the end of the third quarter, a sure sign that Intel is convinced it will beat the consensus estimate.

This week, Intel also unveiled its much-anticipated Pentium III microprocessor. Twenty-seven of the 33 institutional investment firms following the stock maintain either a "buy" or "strong buy" recommendation.

Last quarter, it made $1.5 billion (£0.91bn), or 89 cents a share, on sales of $6.7bn (£4.1bn). Its shares actually were trading at 65 3/8 in June. Analysts said profit margins, international sales and total revenue are the figures worth watching Tuesday.

In the year-ago quarter, Intel pocketed $1.7bn (£1.03bn), or 98 cents a share, on sales of $6.5 bn (£3.96bn).

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