With its fourth-quarter financial report due after the closing bell Tuesday, Intel ( INTC) finally closes out a punishing 2004 that sunk its stock by almost 30%. The world's largest chipmaker will be the first major semiconductor company to detail its results for the past three months as earnings season begins to shift into high gear. Investors are keyed into revenue and earnings, but they also will focus on how well the company has shed excess inventory and expanded gross margins. In addition, Intel will disclose financial targets for its current first quarter and fiscal full year, and the company's assessment of the business environment -- present and future -- will send ripples beyond its own stock, which closed Monday up 8 cents to $22.88. Intel accounts for almost 15% of worldwide semiconductor revenue -- twice as much as No. 2 chipmaker Samsung Electronics -- and its chips are used in four of every five computers manufactured. Stocks that should feel the Intel vibrations include Advanced Micro Devices ( AMD), Intel's main competitor in the market for computer microprocessors and flash memory; semiconductor equipment makers such as Applied Materials ( AMAT) and Novellus Systems ( NVLS); and PC makers such as Dell ( DELL) and Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ), which are major purchasers of Intel's processors. For the fourth quarter, analysts, on average, expect Intel to earn 31 cents a share before items on sales of $9.4 billion, according to Thomson First Call. The company's bottom line also will likely be affected by a benefit of as much as $6 billion, due to a special tax break for companies that bring their foreign-based earnings back to the U.S. During Intel's midquarter update on Dec. 2, the company bumped up its sales guidance to between $9.3 billion and $9.5 billion, but essentially left gross margins expectations untouched, anticipating that they would come in between 55% and 57%. The company cited strong demand for its architecture products, which include microprocessors, chipsets and motherboards.