AMD coup pushes shares to 52-week high

1GHz microprocessor announcement sees company shares soar

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) shares hustled up 5 13/16, or 14 percent, to a 52-week high of 47 5/16 on Monday after rolling out the first 1GHz microprocessor, a chip capable of executing one billion instructions a second. AMD and chief rival Intel have been locked in a clock speed battle since 8 August, when AMD announced its Athlon processor at 650MHz. The chip has since been able to consistently outpace Intel's Pentium III in what has become a race to the landmark 1GHz speed.

Analysts said the chips won't be available in big volumes after they are launched, and that only a handful of PC makers are likely to announce products designed for 1GHz processors. AMD said it would immediately begin shipping its chips to its two largest manufacturing partners -- Compaq Computer and Gateway.

Intel shares fell 7/8 to 118 3/8 in midday trading.

Compaq said it will sell computers with AMD's 1 GHz chip with prices starting as low as $2,000 (£1,240) up to $3,300 (£2,046), with the typical price around $2,499 (£1,549). Gateway said its new boxes will begin pricing at $2,999 (£1,859).

AMD priced its 1GHz processors at $1,299 (£805) in 1,000 unit quantities and said it plans to begin shipping the high-speed chips to all other computer makers in April.

Last quarter, AMD shocked Wall Street when it beat the street's fourth-quarter earnings estimate by 42 cents (26p) a share. In the quarter, AMD raked in $65m (£40m), or 43 cents (26p) a share, on sales of $969m (£600m). Fourteen of the 22 analysts tracking the stock maintain either a "buy" or "strong buy" recommendation.

First Call consensus expects the company to earn 42 cents (26p) a share in its first quarter and $2.13 (£1.32) a share in the fiscal year.

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