Much like Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) , Intel Corp. (INTC) has an interesting blueprint for delivering moderate sales and earnings growth that includes investing big in major data center and cloud opportunities while keeping a PC cash cow roughly steady. Unlike Microsoft, Intel's blueprint could be upended by the resurgence of an old rival -- AMD Inc. (AMD) -- that's in the midst of rolling out a string of intriguing products.
The chip giant's solid Q2 results suggest AMD is only having a limited impact on its performance for now. But as some recently-launched AMD products ramp and additional ones hit the market, there's some risk that the story will change.
Intel reported Q2 revenue of $14.76 billion (up 9% annually) and adjusted EPS of $0.72 (up 22%), beating consensus analyst estimates of $14.4 billion and $0.68. It also guided for Q3 revenue of $15.2 billion to $16.2 billion and EPS of $0.75 to $0.85, mostly above a consensus of $15.2 billion and $0.74. And for full-year revenue of $60.8 billion to $61.8 billion and EPS of $2.85 to $3.15, almost entirely above a consensus of $60.2 billion and $2.86 even after accounting for the fact that Intel expects its pending acquisition of Mobileye NV (MBLY) to add $200 million to 2017 revenue and $0.02 to EPS.
Shares are up a modest 0.5% to $35.15 as of the time of this article. Possibly keeping a lid on gains: Intel's sales guidance still doesn't imply much growth. At its $15.7 billion midpoint, Q3 sales guidance actually implies a slight decline relative to year-ago revenue of $15.78 billion. And full-year sales guidance only implies 3% growth at its $61.3 billion midpoint, even though revenue rose 8.5% during the first half of 2017.
This outlook has much to do with the fact Intel is maintaining a cautious view for its second-half PC CPU sales. On the earnings call, management said that while 2017 PC sales are trending a little better than previously expected, it still expects the PC total addressable market (TAM) to register a decline close to a prior forecast for a mid-single digit drop.
This downbeat forecast comes in spite of the fact Intel's Client Computing Group (CCG), responsible for PC and to a lesser extent mobile processor sales, was the main driver behind the Q2 beat. CCG revenue rose 12% annually to $8.2 billion, topping a $7.8 billion consensus. It helped that the segment's "Other/Modem" revenue rose 45% to $579 million thanks to iPhone 7 modem sales to Apple Inc. (AAPL) , but this was largely expected. A 10% increase in "Platform" revenue (mostly PC-related) to $7.6 billion mostly drove the upside.
The Platform growth was fueled by a 20% increase in notebook-related chip sales, which easily offset a 3% desktop decline, and an 8% increase in total Platform average selling prices (ASPs). Unit volumes grew 3% -- nothing special, but better that industry PC shipment growth.
Intel's PC and mobile processor unit performed well in Q2. But will it last?
On the call, Intel noted that strong high-end PC demand is lifting ASPs, while singling out the gaming segment in particular. Intel, Apple, HP Inc. (HPQ) and others have all previously reported seeing high-end notebook strength. The company also reported getting a lift from inventory replenishment caused by better-than-expected demand, but insisted inventories remain at healthy levels.
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