Intel first quarter profit jumps 400-plus percent

In best first quarter ever, chipmaker posts record $10.3 billion in revenue, citing strong demand for laptop and server chips.

Intel on Tuesday reported a first-quarter profit that jumped more than 400 percent over the same period last year, citing strong demand for laptop chips.

The chipmaker's profit was $2.4 billion, or 43 cents per share, up 433 percent from the same period last year. Analysts were expecting a profit of 38 cents per share.

First-quarter revenue was $10.3 billion, up 44 percent over the same quarter a year ago.

Paul Otellini, Intel president and CEO, said it was Intel's best first quarter ever.

"Consumer and corporate are spending more on on horsepower. They're buying high-priced machines in a time that you would think budgets would be tight," said Doug Freedman of Broadpoint AmTech.

Freedman said Intel should also see good results from servers going forward, following the the release of the eight-core Xeon 7500 processor late in the first quarter.

Intel cited record mobile microprocessor revenue in the quarter.

Gross margin, a key profit indicator, was 63 percent, up from 45.3 percent a year earlier.

Looking ahead to the second quarter of this year, revenue is expected to be between $9.8 billion and $10.6 billion. Gross margin percentage is forecast at 64 percent, plus or minus a couple of percentage points.

Highlights of comments from CEO Paul Otellini during earnings conference call Tuesday afternoon:

  • Demand for "high-end products" was strong and "corporate demand is returning."
  • 32-nanometer chip technology: fastest technology ramp ever for Intel.
  • Four 32-nanometer factories to be online by end of year.
  • Tablets: like Netbooks two years ago. "Likely market expansive."
  • Customers will be announcing "Moorestown" Atom-based products, including tablets, later in the year.
  • New dual-core Atom coming in the second quarter.
  • Atom shipments down seasonally.
  • Next-generation "Sandy Bridge" microarchitecture due by end of year.

Updated at 4 p.m. PDT: adding earnings conference call comments.

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