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AMD cancels conference appearances

Advanced Micro Devices abruptly pulls out of appearances at two securities conferences amid speculation that it may be shopping its Vantis division.

SAN FRANCISCO--Advanced Micro Devices abruptly canceled appearances at two securities conferences today, a move that has ignited some speculation that the company may be trying to sell its Vantis division.

The prospect of a Vantis sales comes amid slow growth from the division and yesterday's resignation of Rich Forte, Vantis chief executive officer.

Vantis is a wholly owned subsidiary of AMD dedicated to integrated circuits for the personal and networked computer and communications markets. Although Vantis contributes about 10 percent to AMD's revenue, sales have been relatively stagnant for a number of quarters.

AMD was slated to appear at the NationsBanc Montgomery Securities conference here tomorrow and at the similar Goldman Sachs & Company conference later in the month. Today, however, AMD canceled appearances at both conferences without providing an explanation.

While a number of analysts guessed that the cancellation may be related to Vantis, AMD may merely be regrouping to take another look at its strategy for competing against Intel, said Charles Boucher, semiconductor analyst with Donaldson, Lufkin & Jeanrette. Intel has increasingly become more aggressive in its pricing in 1998, he said.

Intel has also been moving its product releases forward in time. A 433-MHz Celeron chip will come out next month, for example, while a 466-MHz Celeron will come out in May, said sources close to Intel, faster than earlier road maps.

Additionally, Intel will likely start shipping a few chips based around the more advanced 0.18-micron process in the second quarter, a move which could allow Intel to start putting out cheaper, more advanced chips to market quicker than earlier expected.

"AMD is facing a competitor than is ratcheting up its clock speed at an accelerated rate," he said.

The cancellations, of course, may be coincidental to any of these circumstances.