Intel reports huge increase in Q3 earnings, bullish on corporate technology spending

Chip maker more cautious about consumer demand for PCs as holidays approach

The rest of the technology industry certainly hopes Intel's take on corporate spending is accurate.

In announcing stellar third-quarter earnings after Tuesday's market close, the world's leading microprocessor manufacturer said it anticipates spending on enterprise technology to remain strong. It was much less bullish, however, regarding consumer demand for personal computers.

Intel's Q3 net earnings jumped 59 percent to $2.96 billion, or 52 cents per share, from last year's Q3 profit of $1.86 billion, or 33 cents per share. Revenue increased 18 percent to a record $11.1 billion from $9.4 billion.

Consensus estimates forecast Q3 revenue of $11 billion and net income of 50 cents per share.

Shares of Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) rose after hours to 20.25 from Tuesday's close of 19.77 before settling in at 19.93 shortly after 7 p.m. Shares are down 3 percent this year and 18.9 percent from a 52-week high of 24.37 set on April 15.

For Q4, Intel said it anticipates revenue of $11.4 billion, plus or minus $400 million. (You know you've got a big company when you throw a "plus or minus $400 million" into your quarterly forecast.) Consensus Wall Street estimates call for $11.4 billion in Q4.

Intel's big challenge remains in the consumer market, where the advent of tablets and a new generation of smartphones could eat into sales of PCs. Indeed, recent data shows a slowdown of notebook sales, and Intel reported a 4 percent sequential quarterly decline in sales of its Atom microprocessor, the chip that powers most notebooks.

This is no small worry for Intel. The vast majority of its sales -- $8.1 billion in Q3, or 73 percent of its total quarterly revenue -- came from its PC client group that sells chips used in desktop PCs, laptops and netbooks.

But CEO Paul Otellini said once computer manufacturers begin producing tablets running on Intel chips, the company will be in line to benefit from sales of the smaller devices.

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