Since Intel ( INTC) reduced the midpoint of its sales guidance in early March, the chipmaker's shares have languished. Barring a big upside surprise after the bell Tuesday, Intel may be hard-pressed to reignite lasting ardor for its stock, which has underperformed its faster growing peers this year. Based on Monday's close of $27.60, Intel shares are down 14% year to date vs. gains of 3.1% for the Nasdaq Composite and 1.4% for the Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index. Intel's sharp decline has prompted some opportunists to swoop in and snap up shares, arguing that the stock is attractive below $30 . Indeed, there is speculation Intel shares could enjoy a near-term bounce -- assuming there are no major negatives in Tuesday's postclose earnings report or conference call. Noah Blackstein, manager of the $126 million Dynamic Power American Growth fund, believes the stock could see upside after earnings, given that it's already sold off so much this year. "Unless Intel completely blows up, which I can't see, I think in-line to above in-line guidance would send its shares higher," he said. Most analysts don't expect Intel to have any trouble meeting consensus estimates for first-quarter earnings of 27 cents a share on sales of $8.164 billion. Among the reasons for near-term optimism: Dell ( DELL) said last week that unit growth of its computer hardware is running ahead of expectations due to growth overseas. That could translate into upside for Intel, which in 2003 drew 19% of its sales from the PC maker, Intel's biggest customer. But many investors remain skeptical of Intel's investment prospects, arguing that smaller communications chipmakers offer a better value. For example, while upbeat on the chipmaker's near-term prospects, Blackstein has sold off his stake in Intel. He believes the longer-term outlook favors faster-growing chipmakers like Broadcom ( BRCM) and Silicon Labs ( SLAB), both of which his fund owns. "Intel's pretty big, pretty mature, and my focus is on growth," he said.