Updated from June 5

Intel ( INTC) on Thursday narrowed the range of its likely second-quarter performance. Possibly helped by a swing to higher-margin notebooks, the company kept the midpoint of its revenue projections intact despite the expectations of some analysts.

And although Andy Bryant, Intel's chief financial officer, didn't offer a lot of details on the future, he did sound rather optimistic. "We've had three quarters of normal business at the high end, as opposed to two years of low expectations," he said in a conference call.

Intel traded at $22.58 at 11:30 a.m. EDT Friday, up 74 cents, or 3.39%.

Intel said revenue in the quarter ending June 28 will range from $6.6 billion to $6.8 billion, roughly in line with expectations on Wall Street that the company will earn 13 cents on $6.6 billion in revenue. The company's most recent projection was for revenue in the quarter ranging from $6.4 billion and $7 billion. (Intel did not give earnings guidance.)

In a prepared statement issued after the bell Thursday, the company said its core Intel Architecture business (chips used in mainstream desktop and corporate server computers) "is trending to the high end of the normal season pattern while demand for communications products remains soft."

Flash memory chips are a major component of Intel's communications business, and are used in cell phones, digital cameras and other devices.

All other expectations remain unchanged, the company said. "This quarter actually has unfolded almost across every element as we would have anticipated as the quarter began," Bryant said.

Analysts Dan Niles of Lehman Brothers and David Wu of Wedbush Morgan Securities, said a swing by buyers to notebooks powered by the company's more expensive mobile chips is likely boosting revenue (Lehman has done banking for Intel).

Bryant wouldn't confirm that theory, but did say that "we are very satisfied with the way Centrino (Intel's mobile package) has launched," and noted that continued success of Centrino probably would shift the product mix.Although there has been some talk in the industry about an inventory buildup in the channel, Bryant said "there's nothing out there that concerns us, but I'd suggest you talk to customers (to get a better feel.)" He also noted that gross margins will likely come in as expected this quarter at about 50%, and 51% for the year as a whole.

While some analysts saw a disparity in reports by motherboard makers of slumping sales and Intel's optimism, Wu said there was a way to reconcile the trends. He noted that while motherboard makers who sell to so-called white box makers in China, are seeing a downturn, other motherboard vendors sell a larger percentage of boards to branded OEMs. "In any case, someone is obviously buying more PCs than we might have thought," said Wu, whose company does not have a current banking relationship with Intel.

Demand for PCs in China has been weak because of the SARS outbreak.

Even at the low end of projections, Intel's sales outlook is running ahead of last year's second-quarter sales of $6.3 billion.

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