When Intel ( INTC) offers its midquarter update Thursday, investors will be trying to understand an odd disconnect: The tech bellwether's sales outlook is outrunning expectations for the broader PC market. Intel's revenue is now on track to dip only about 1% from the prior quarter, and few analysts expect the company to change that forecast much. Yet the companies that crank out motherboards that incorporate Intel's silicon have seen their business deteriorate over the quarter and are likely to see sequential revenue fall in the high single digits. How to explain the disparity? While some Intel-watchers are betting the company will be forced to lower the midpoint of its guidance, others think it can outperform the PC market, partly because of the rapid take-off of its pricey Centrino chip package, which debuted in March. On top of that, some analysts and investors think Intel could see a short-lived sales boost related to SARS, since customers seem to have built inventory to avoid potential supply disruptions. (To a lesser extent, SARS may have hurt Intel by reducing demand in the Chinese market.) "I'm relatively comfortable Intel can maintain guidance," sums up Vincent Colicchio, manager of the All-American Equity Fund, which has about 1% of its holdings in Intel. On April 16 the chipmaker said sales are likely to fall between $6.4 billion and $7 billion, with CFO Andy Bryant noting that business seemed to be " modestly better ," after two and a half discouraging years. Its outlook for a 1% sequential slide in revenue is better than the usual 3% decline for the period. Even at the low end, Intel's sales outlook is running ahead of last year's second-quarter sales of $6.3 billion. Analysts are looking for $6.6 billion on 13 cents in EPS. Helping stoke sales, the Centrino chip package seems to be ramping up faster than expected, and that should help inflate Intel's average selling prices. The new wireless LAN mobile chip package carries a hefty price tag of around $325 per unit, compared to an average price of $152 for chips in general, estimates Lehman's Dan Niles.