No one expected the Web cast of
fall analyst meeting Wednesday to yield much in the way of new and substantive financial information. And no one was disappointed with the way things turned out.
The company's management spent a stupefying two hours describing Intel's strong market position, the growth in its wireless business, its commitment to its core microprocessor business, the continued strength of the Internet infrastructure rollout -- you get the idea.
There were a few nuggets of interest, though. The production ramp of
chips appears to be more aggressive than most had expected, with the company saying it expects the number of units shipped to surpass the
early in 2002, rather than later that year. But the infrastructure costs associated with a faster ramp will crimp gross profit margins some in the coming quarters; the company said average unit costs will decline less than previously expected in 2001.
The most interesting point of the meeting came when CEO Craig Barrett offered some loose guidance on long-term revenue growth, something no analyst had expected to happen. Barrett said that investors could expect sales to grow 10% in the core microprocessor business and 50% in the company's new communications-chip businesses. Given the current mixture of Intel's business -- about 80% of sales coming from microprocessors and 20% from newer products -- Barrett was forecasting sales growth of around 18% a year.
That figure is above what Intel has been doing for the past three years. But it's not likely to turn the company's stock back into the highflier it once was.
"Ten percent is not exactly overwhelming," said Drew Peck, an analyst at
, which hasn't done underwriting for Intel. "It's certainly realistic, and potentially even optimistic. But it's interesting that the company would even voice that assumption."
"This is why the company's spending billions there," Peck continued, referring to Intel's intense focus on the fast-growing, communications-semiconductor segment. "Think of the pickle they'd be in if they weren't."