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Watch Intel for Tech's Next Move

SAN FRANCISCO -- The world has changed since Intel's (INTC - Get Report) last public assessment of its business.

Back in July, CEO Paul Otellini said confidently, "As we enter the second half, demand remains strong for our microprocessor and chipset products in all segments and in all parts of the globe."

With the financial crisis that occurred in the following months, along with the steady stream of bad news regarding the economy and PC industry, it seems almost self-evident that the view from Santa Clara, Calif., is no longer so rosy.

When Intel delivers its third-quarter financial results after Tuesday's close of market, investors will get a crucial update on how the tech market is being affected by the changed circumstances -- and how much pain it will inflict on Intel.

The 22% drop in Intel's shares over the last three months -- hitting a five-year low at $14.26 last week -- reflects the widespread fear and uncertainty among investors (the stock did shoot up nearly 9% to $16.99 in Monday's broad market rally).

Friedman Billings Ramsey analyst Craig Berger says the PC market deteriorated sharply in September. But by that point, he says, Intel had already sold enough chips to meet financial targets for the third quarter.

"They already had most of the quarter in the bag," says Berger, whose firm makes a market in Intel shares.

The fact that Intel didn't issue a preannouncement suggests it can't be too far off from the $10.3 billion in sales and 34 cents in earnings expected by Wall Street analysts, which equates to the midpoint of Intel's guided range.

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