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Intel dips despite earnings news

The chip giant's shares dip nearly 1 percent despite the news that it leapt past Wall Street estimates for its third-quarter earnings.

Shares of Intel dipped nearly 1 percent despite the news that the chipmaker had leapt past Wall Street estimates for its third-quarter earnings yesterday, driven by a healthy pace for worldwide PC sales.

The stock was down .97 percent or .81 points to 82.75 in early trading, and has reached a high of 95.63 and a low of 65.65 during the past 52 weeks.

In looking at the coming fourth quarter, several analysts remain bullish on the company.

Intel executives said they expect fourth-quarter revenue to rise slightly above those posted for the most recent quarter, but some analysts suspect the chip giant may be conservative with its forecast.

"I think they were sandbagging a bit. They exited the quarter with such a huge momentum trend line that I think their estimate was conservative," said Charles Boucher, an analyst with Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.

He added that analysts likely will be raising their Intel earnings estimates today, giving some bounce to the stock.

"Intel's stock has not been trading at a valuation that reflects its growth level," he said.

David Wu, an analyst with ABN AMRO, said computer Intel at a glance makers that purchase Intel's chips continue to report that their distribution channels are pretty lean--hence demand for chips will likely continue. He said the market would not be flooded as a result.

"The biggest challenge we're facing as this quarter begins is being able to produce enough parts to meet our customers needs," Intel chief financial officer Andy Bryant said in a conference call.

The chip giant's revenues reached a record $6.7 billion for the quarter, a 9 percent increase over year-ago figures. Last month, Intel announced that its revised revenue outlook for the third quarter would be 8 to 10 percent higher sequentially, compared to its previous prediction that numbers would remain flat.

Intel isn't the only one riding the wave of strong PC sales. Advanced Micro Devices also reported better-than-expected third-quarter results and record revenues earlier this month.

Advanced Mirco Devices shares fell 1.2 percent to 15.5 in early trading despite its strong earnings news. The stock has traded as high as 31.13 and as low as 12.75 during the past 52 weeks.

Intel posted net profits of $1.6 billion, or 89 cents per share, for the quarter, basically the same as year-ago figures. Analysts had expected the chipmaker to post earnings of 80 cents per share, according to First Call.

"We are pleased with our overall performance in the last quarter," said Craig R. Barrett, president and chief executive officer, in a statement. "We had growth across nearly all of our geographies and product lines, including strong microprocessor sales. In the third quarter, the PC industry recovered from its inventory problems and is benefiting from strong seasonal demand."

Unit shipments of microprocessor, chipset, motherboard, flash memory, Fast Ethernet connections, hubs, and switches were up in the third quarter compared to the previous quarter. But shipments of embedded processor and microcontroller units were down sequentially.

Intel executives said sales of its new Pentium II Xeon processors were strong, as were sales of its Celeron 333 MHz and 300 MHz processors.

While some analysts expected Intel to perform even better than last month's upwardly revised estimates, Intel managed to blow past even the highest estimates. Ashok Kumar, an analyst with Piper Jaffray, had pegged earnings at 84 cents per share prior to the earnings release yesterday.

Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network, publisher of News.com.