Intel's new boss predicts strong second-half sales

Intel's new president, Craig Barrett, said sales in the second half of the year will be strong, possibly offsetting an expected revenue decline for the chipmaker's first quarter.

Intel has been playing catch up with a PC industry spoilt for choice of processor: less expensive components, such as AMD's K6, a cheaper clone of Intel's Pentium chip and Cyrix' Media GX range, have taken their toll. In addition, cable television giant Tele-Communications said it wouldn't use Intel chips in its digital set-top boxes because they are too expensive.

Intel has acted to get into the sub-$1000 PC market however. The company plans to release its low-end Celeron chip on April 15.

All eyes are on Barrett to guide Intel out of the high-end corner from which it has painted itself. Late last month, the company's chief executive, Andrew Grove, said he would step down and remain as chairman. The board of directors said that Barrett would be formally inducted as CEO in a meeting in May.

At the briefing, Barrett confirmed analysts' consensus that the computer industry may grow 15 to 18 percent this year. "You can't say with 100 percent certainty what will happen, but you certainly can speculate what they might be," said an Intel spokesman, who confirmed Barrett's comments.