Intel reports 48% increase in Q4 net income

Chip maker turns in record quarterly sales, profit; issues bullish forecast

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Chip maker Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) reported a 48 percent increase in fourth-quarter profit after Thursday's market close, sending shares up to $22 in after-hours trading, a gain of 3.3 percent over its 21.29 regular-session closing price.

(Also see: Intel reports huge increase in Q3 earnings, bullish on corporate technology spending)

Intel said its Q4 revenue of $11.46 billion, up 8 percent from $10.57 billion in the fourth quarter of 2009. Net income was $3.39 billion, or 59 cents a share, a gain of 48 percent over the year-ago period's $2.28 billion, or 40 cents a share.

Consensus estimates called for fourth-quarter revenue of $11.38 billion and earnings of 53 cents a share.

Intel said its Q4 sales, earnings and EPS were all records for the semiconductor giant.

The company's data-center group showed particular strength in the fourth quarter, with sales of $2.5 billion, up 24 percent from the previous year. This unit sells processors for enterprise servers and work stations.

However, the company's division that sells chips for PCs saw only a 3.5 percent increase in revenue from the year-ago quarter, to $8 billion.

For the fiscal year, Intel reported record revenue of $43.6 billion, up 24 percent from 2009. Net income for the full year was a record $11.7 billion, or $2.05 a share, up an eye-popping 167 percent from the previous year.

In a statement accompanying the earnings report, Intel CEO and president Paul Otellini said, "2010 was the best year in Intel's history. We believe that 2011 will be even better."

Intel forecast $11.5 billion in revenue for this year's first quarter, above consensus estimates of $10.76 billion.

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

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