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Intel posts record Q4 revenue, chip shipments

Jan 14, 20044 mins
Financial Services IndustryWi-Fi

Intel on Wednesday reported its highest quarterly revenue ever for the fourth quarter, overtaking the high-water mark it set in the third quarter of 2000.

Intel on Wednesday reported its highest quarterly revenue ever for the fourth quarter, overtaking the high-water mark it set in the third quarter of 2000.

For the period ending Dec. 27, Intel recorded revenue of $8.74 billion, up 22% from $7.16 billion in last year’s fourth quarter. The chip maker’s previous record for revenue in a quarter was $8.73 billion, set right near the end of the dot-com bubble in the third quarter of 2000. Revenue exceeded expectations of $8.66 billion by analysts polled by Thomson First Call.

Net income for the quarter was $2.2 billion, up 107% from last year’s fourth-quarter net income of $1.05 billion. This equates to earnings per share of $0.33, up 106% from $0.16 in the fourth quarter of 2002 and exceeding Thomson First Call estimates of $0.25.

“There are always question marks about the future, but I’m confident the work we have done will make us stronger,” said Andy Bryant, Intel’s CFO, during a conference call following Intel’s announcement.

The company recorded a charge of $611 million for the quarter related to the write-down of goodwill associated with its Wireless Communications and Computing Group (WCCG). That division is expected to grow more slowly than Intel had originally thought, the company said in December.

The charge worked out as $0.09 per share, but was offset by a greater-than-expected tax benefit related to a divestiture that closed in the fourth quarter, Intel said. During its business update in December, Intel said it expected to record about $200 million in tax benefits, but an additional divestiture increased that benefit by $420 million, or $0.06 a share, for a total of $0.09 in tax benefits for the fourth quarter.

For the full year, Intel posted revenue of $30.1 billion, up 13% from revenue of $26.8 billion in 2002. Net income was $5.6 billion and earnings per share was $0.85, both up more than 80% from 2002 and exceeding full year expectations from analysts.

The company credited record processor shipments from its Intel Architecture group, as well as higher average selling prices for the revenue increase.

Intel shipped its first units of Prescott, its first 90 nanometer processor, in the fourth quarter, and expects to ship millions in the first quarter, said Paul Otellini, Intel’s president and chief operating officer, during the conference call. Prescott is on track to make up 50% of Intel’s performance desktop line and a “substantial” portion of its mainstream chips, he said.

However, the 90 nanometer version of the Pentium M chip will be delayed, Otellini said. Because of the need for “circuit modifications” to manufacture the chip in high volumes, the launch of the processor, codenamed Dothan, will be delayed until the second quarter, he said.

Intel expects no significant impact to its first quarter revenue as a result of the delay, Otellini said.

Flash memory shipments, a thorn in Intel’s side all year, were flat compared with the third quarter, as the company tries to make up for lost market share this year after raising its prices. The prices crept up in the fourth quarter as Intel increased the density of its flash memory products, Otellini said.

The first quarter of 2003 will be the first to reflect the merger of WCCG and the Intel Communications Group (ICG). Intel announced plans to merge WCCG, which manufactures wireless chips and flash memory, and ICG, which makes networking and telecommunications chips, in December.

In the last quarter for which they reported separate results, both groups posted losses. Revenue from WCCG dropped from $662 million in the fourth quarter of 2002 to $469 million in this year’s fourth quarter, Intel said.

Looking forward to the first quarter, Intel predicted revenue of between $7.9 billion and $8.5 billion. It expects to increase its research and development spending to $4.8 billion in 2004, from $4.4 billion in 2003, as it works on its 65 nanometer manufacturing process during the year, Bryant said.