AMD Rises, Looks for Profit Boost

Investors are hopeful that AMD will receive a big spending boost when the chipmaker posts its fourth-quarter results later today.
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SUNNYVALE, Calif. (TheStreet) -- AMD (AMD) - Get Report will post its fourth-quarter results after market close on Thursday, and investors are keen to see whether the chipmaker receives a boost from the apparent uptick in tech spending.

Rival

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

already blew past analysts' estimates with its own fourth-quarter

results

and tech bellwether

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

recently

enjoyed

a fourth-quarter profit boost.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expect AMD to post revenue of $1.49 billion, up slightly from $1.162 billion in the

same period

over last year. The chipmaker's losses are also expected to narrow as the company slowly claws its way out of

a troubled period

marked by ongoing losses. Excluding items, AMD is expected to report a loss of 18 cents a share, compared to a loss of 69 cents a share in the prior year's quarter.

At least one analyst, though, believes that AMD could reap the benefits of an improving economy and beat analysts' estimates.

"Strong results are largely expected across all key metrics as PC markets have tracked ahead of expectations through the quarter, driven by a strong holiday selling season," explained Doug Freedman, an analyst at Broadpoint AmTech, in a recent note. Specifically, Freedman cites the impact of

Microsoft's

(MSFT) - Get Report

Windows 7 operating system, robust demand for notebooks and netbooks, and a "moderate improvement" in the enterprise channel.

AMD's stock has also been on an upswing since its analyst day in November, rising from $5.32 to its current level just under $9. In early trading on Thursday, AMD's shares rose 5 cents, or 0.56% to $8.92, as the Nasdaq dipped 0.82%.

The recent run-up in AMD's share price reflects a healthier balance sheet and a vastly improved capital structure says Freedman, thanks in no small part last year's $1.25 billion

settlement

from Intel, which ended a series of patent and antitrust disputes between the two tech heavyweights.

Shares of AMD, along with those of rival

Nvidia

(NVDA) - Get Report

, were also given a boost last year when Intel

scrapped plans

to release a standalone graphics chip.

Intel nonetheless increased pressure on AMD at CES earlier this month when it unveiled its first

32-nanometer chips

and announced that it would be rolling out the technology to its Xeon server chips within months. AMD, in contrast, is not expected to implement 32-nanometer until sometime next year.

Broadpoint analyst Freedman still maintains his buy rating for AMD and raised the company's price target from $10 to $12. "We grow more confident that the company is broadening its customer base and distribution channel, growing share in server microprocessor units, and is set to gain graphics processing unit share in the first half of calendar year 2010."

Specifically, Freedman points to the impact of AMD's new DX-11 graphics chip (code-named Evergreen), but acknowledges that the chipmaker and its ATI division face a challenge from Nvidia's forthcoming Fermi chip.

"While we believe introduction of Nvidia's Fermi will likely be a headline event, we note that AMD's ATI already has a strong foothold in the gaming community," he wrote. "

AMD also has a first-to-market advantage with DX-11."

-- Reported by James Rogers in New York

Related Story:

Low Expectations for AMD

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