Intel Raising Guidance — on Stronger Business PC Demand

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Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) is raising guidance. On top of that, the company is claiming that this is “As a result of stronger than expected demand for business PCs.” If that is the case, it almost has to be great news for Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) first and maybe even for rival Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NYSE: AMD) as a secondary winner, followed by Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MU) in DRAM. And what about Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)?

Intel now said that it sees second-quarter revenues of $13.7 billion, plus or minus $300 million. The company’s prior benchmark was $13.0 billion plus or minus $500 million. This is huge news when you consider how muted the market for PCs has been in general.

Furthermore, Intel now sees the mid-point of its gross margin range to increase by 1 point to 64%, plus or minus a couple of percentage points — again, due mostly to higher PC unit volume.

Intel’s cap-ex talk is even better than before. The chip and processor giant said that its R&D plus MG&A spending is expected to be approximately $4.9 billion. This is roughly $100 million higher than the prior $4.8 billion benchmark. This is being driven largely by revenue- and profit-dependent items. Another issue, which may not be as favorable, is that Intel is forecasting a tax rate of 28% for the second quarter versus its prior forecast of 27% — due to higher profits in higher tax jurisdictions.

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And for the full year, Intel is now expecting some revenue growth versus its prior forecast of flattish revenue — again, due to strong demand for business PCs. Its full-year gross margin percentage is now expected to be in the upper half of the previous range of 61%, plus or minus a few percentage points – driven by expected improvements in unit cost and volume.

Intel shares closed up only three cents higher at $27.96 on Thursday, but the after-hours reaction had shares initially up 4.45 at $29.22. The prior 52-week high was $28.42, and the consensus analyst target before any changes after guidance was $26.98.

AMD shares closed flat at $4.29, but its shares were indicated up 1% at $4.34. AMD shares were up as high as $4.44 on Thursday due to a reshuffling of its units into a better operating structure. AMD would have likely closed higher had it not been for the down market trends from Iraq pressure, and it just scored two upgrades from analysts.

On Micron, we just saw a strong analyst endorsement of DRAM and Flash on Wednesday.

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Satya Nadella has to be happy at Microsoft today. Microsoft’s stock closed down 0.7% at $40.58, and shares were initially back up to $40.99 in the after-hours. Its prior 52-week high is $41.66.

Is it possible that Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) and even Dell would be winners from this? HP shares closed up 0.4% at $33.39 on a Goldman Sachs upgrade, to Neutral from Sell. HP shares were up another 0.7% at $33.39 in the after-hours session.