Intel sees 'no holiday cheer for PCs', says analyst

A weak back-to-school offering and looking ahead to a dismal fourth-quarter, Sterne Agee warns of "no holiday cheer" for Intel, and lowers its guidance on the chipmaker.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor
Image: CNET

Things aren't looking so great for the PC market, and much of the same can be said about the chipmaker and PC hardware sector. 

Sterne Agee analyst Vijay Rakesh warned in a note to analysts on Monday that Intel's fourth quarter likely won't look so hot compared to the same quarter a year ago, when the PC decline was gathering momentum for a full-blown collapse.

Rakesh warned that pre-holiday sales during the once-seen as lucrative "back to school" season, typically during August and September, didn't garner the payout the chipmaker was expecting.

"We believe back to school PC demand has been virtually absent," Rakesh said in the note.

With this, higher channel inventories and "lackluster demand" now suggests a flat fourth-quarter, compared to a typical seasonal bump of between 5-7 percent quarter-over-quarter. Worryingly, supply chain checks suggest a flat December holiday season for PC sales, where typically many would expect a significant rise — current market conditions notwithstanding.

As a result, the analyst is lowering his end-of-year PC growth estimates down from a 9.6 percent loss to a 10.7 percent loss year-over-year.

He remains concerned about Intel's lack of progress on the mobile stage. While Windows-powered tablets are on the most part the driving mobile force of the firm's mobile efforts, the chipmaker has yet to make any meaningful share in the smartphone space. 

According to Rakesh: "We believe PCs continue to be challenging combined with potentially weaker Intel handset-mobile segment post the Nokia-Microsoft merger."

There is an upshot for the chipmaker, however.

During the second half, Rakesh said Intel was expecting a datacenter bounce with enterprise rebound, which falls in line with Sterne Agee's 10-15 percent datacenter growth estimate. Rakesh said this was in spite of the flat second-quarter datacenter spending across the industry, as well as the flat year-over-year federal spending.

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