Intel Keeps Them Guessing

Updated from 7:48 a.m. EDT

Investors registered mild displeasure with Intel ( INTC) Friday after the chip giant recalibrated its third-quarter sales guidance and copped to continuing problems meeting demand.

The stock fell 40 cents, or 1.5%, to $25.69 in early Friday trading.

Intel tightened its third-quarter sales guidance around the midpoint of its previous range. The company's action was expected by many, as Intel is still dealing with an inability to meet all demand for its desktop chipsets, a factor that held back results in the second quarter.

Intel acknowledged this ongoing condition but said the quarter is proceeding overall as expected, with continued healthy growth in the PC market, especially for notebooks. "There is no real surprise in the revenue line," said CFO Andy Bryant during a conference call.

Intel expects sales between $9.8 billion and $10 billion and gross margins that will likely be slightly above 60%.

At the quarter's start, Intel predicted sales between $9.6 billion and $10.2 billion and gross margins of 60%, plus or minus a couple of points.

Analysts were expecting sales of $9.92 billion and earnings of 36 cents a share, on average, according to Thomson First Call.

Intel said its tax rate will be higher than anticipated during the current quarter by an unspecified amount because of an additional $250 million in taxes paid on the repatriation of about $6.3 billion of foreign earnings.

Intel disclosed last month in an SEC filing that it might have to pay up to $350 million in taxes related to repatriated earnings. The company's targeted tax rate was 30.5%.

The midpoint of Intel's revenue target -- $9.9 billion -- represented a 15% increase from the same quarter last year and a 5.7% rise from the second quarter. Intel typically garners sequential growth in the third quarter closer to 7%.

Intel investors have bailed out of the stock since its second-quarter report in mid-July. Since then, shares dropped from a one-year high of almost $29 to a three-month low of $25.50.

Ahead of Thursday's announcement, Intel investors lifted the shares back above $26, but those gains faded in the wake of the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company's update.

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