Intel Corp.'s (INTC) first-quarter profit sank 13% as the chip maker saw higher expenses, along with sliding revenue in all three of its major segments.
Intel, considered a bellwether for the broader industry because its chips run more than 80% of the world's PCs, posted record results in 2011 despite worries about demand. The company faces soft PC sales in mature markets like the U.S., and hard-disk drive shortages had hurt manufacturers' ability to build computers.
But the company's data-center business, particularly servers, has been buoying results, and emerging markets such as China have been giving sales a lift. Additionally, Intel hopes to revitalize the PC industry with thin and light laptops called Ultrabooks, and it's finally gaining some traction in the mobile-devices market with its processors.
JPMorgan Chase this month said business conditions for semiconductor companies continue to improve almost across the board, as backlog and bookings have steadily risen since December. Order rates from PC end markets are improving, the banking firm said, as hard disk drive shortages were mitigated faster than expected--benefiting PC suppliers like Intel and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD). The second quarter looks to be headed toward normal seasonal growth, as well, JPMorgan said.
Intel reported a profit of $2.74 billion, or 53 cents a share, down from $3.16 billion, or 56 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding acquisition-related costs, amortization and other items, the latest period's earnings shrank to 56 cents from 58 cents. Analysts were expecting 50 cents.
Revenue improved 0.5% to $12.9 billion, in line with the company's January range of $12.3 billion to $13.3 billion.
Gross margin, a closely watched figure for chip makers, widened to 64% from 61.4%.
Sales in the company's PC client group, which makes up about two-thirds of the top line, fell 2%, while data-center revenue sank 0.5%. Intel's other architecture group posted 6.4% lower revenue.
Operating expenses climbed 20% to $4.46 billion.
For the current quarter, Intel targeted a top line of $13.1 billion to $14.1 billion, bracketing analysts' forecast of $13.45 billion.
Shares closed Tuesday at $28.47 and were down 1.5% after hours. Through the close, the stock was up 17% over the past year amid growing strength in the chip sector.
-By Ben Fox Rubin, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-3108; firstname.lastname@example.org