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AMD sees 1Q sales topping $1 billion

Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD) said Wednesday that its first quarter sales will top $1 billion. AMD is trading at a 52-week high.

In a statement, AMD said it had strong sales growth from all its product groups.

AMD: King of chips?

The company, which reports results April 12, said revenue will be about $1.06 billion, 10 percent higher than the fourth quarter sales tally. First Call consensus predicts a profit of 48 cents a share for AMD.

On its fourth quarter conference call, officials predicted that first quarter sales would be down to flat in the first quarter. In the fourth quarter, AMD reported sales of $969 million.

AMD added that both flash memory and PC processors, including the Athlon processor, hit new records in units and sales. CEO W.J. Sanders III said the company has hit its goal of selling at least 1.2 million AMD Athlon processors during the quarter.

"We believe we continued to gain unit share worldwide last quarter in the PC processor segment,'' said Sanders, in a statement. Sanders also said AMD has 20 percent market share in Japan.

AMD has been one of the tech sector's great turnaround stories. AMD, which battles Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), couldn't buy a "buy" rating a year ago, but now has 14 analysts rating the stock a "buy." Nine analysts still rate the company a "hold."

In the fourth quarter, AMD crushed estimates with a profit of 43 cents a share. Wall Street was only expecting a slight profit.

Although AMD still has its skeptics, Wednesday's preannouncement should bring a few more analysts onto the bandwagon.

Sanders bet the company on the Athlon chip and it worked. AMD and Intel have been duking it out as they ramp up chip speeds and introduce new products. In fact, AMD beat Intel in the 1GHz processor race.

AMD is also cooking up a new chip called Spitfire that will boost performance for low-cost PCs.

Intel countered with a Celeron makeover.

But the AMD and Intel battle has become more interesting due to the success of the Athlon, which competes in the high-end of the market. With Athlon boosting margins, AMD can now take on Intel in the low end.

Although its battle with Intel gets the publicity, AMD has a thriving flash memory business. Flash memory is used in communications devices, digital displays and other equipment. On the flash memory side of the business, AMD competes with Atmel (Nasdaq: ATML). Other competitors for AMD include Motorola (NYSE: MOT) and National Semiconductor (NYSE: NSM).