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Rambus shares soar ahead of Intel conference

    Rambus Inc. (Nasdaq: RMBS) shares closed up 40 19/64, or 36 percent, to a 52-week high of 151 47/64 Tuesday on expectations that Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) will provide more rave reviews for the surging chipmaker during its Developer's Forum conference.

    Rambus shares have been on the upswing since November when its memory-chip standard was incorporated in Intel's popular 820 chipset.

    Analysts are expecting Intel to reaffirm its support of Rambus' technology during the three-day conference in Palm Springs, Calif.

    Traders said Rambus' recent run-up is partly a product of investors scrambling to cover old "shorts" ahead of the conference.

    With rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) carving out a healthy chunk of the high-end market with its Athlon chip, Intel's making a concerted effort to re-establish itself as the premier chip manufacturer. During the first day of the conference, Intel unveiled its Willamette chip which runs at 1.5 gigahertz, or more than 1.5 billion bits of information per second.

    Rambus is doing just fine in its own right, blowing past analysts' estimates in its first quarter with a profit of $2.6 million, or 10 cents a share, on sales of $12.3 million.

    The $12.3 million in sales marked a 27 percent improvement versus the year-ago period when it earned $2 million, or 7 cents a share, on sales of $9.7 million.

    For the fiscal year, Rambus earned $8.7 million, or 35 cents a share, on sales of $43.4 million compared to $6.7 million, or 28 cents a share, on sales of $37.9 million in fiscal 1998.

    First Call consensus expects Rambus to earn 14 cents a share in its second quarter and 62 cents a share in the fiscal year.