In this market, anything short of outright trauma seems encouraging. So investors leaped on
financial results yesterday as relative good news, even though the company
missed Street estimates by a penny and trimmed its gross margin projections for the year.
The stock was up $1.07 in early afternoon trading Wednesday, gaining 5.8% to $19.43. Other gainers included competitor
Advanced Micro Devices
, up 26 cents, or 2.8%, to $9.66, and
, rising 93 cents, or 3.7%, to $26.05.
To be sure, Intel's second-half business outlook remains murky. Yesterday, the chipmaker predicted its revenues for the third quarter would fall somewhere between $6.3 and $6.9 billion. "Their outlook is flat to up 10%
growth. You can obviously drive a truck through it," said Prudential analyst Hans Mosesmann.
Still, analysts viewed the company's forecast for modest seasonal improvements as decent news, having steeled themselves for a worst-case scenario. "Given the speculation that had been running around outside (and inside) Intel in the last couple of days about possible fab closures, layoffs of as many as 10,000 workers, and perpetually weak pricing and gross margins, the Q2 was a pretty good one," wrote Salomon Smith Barney analyst Jonathan Joseph in a research note out this morning.
Among the positive signs: average selling prices for the quarter managed to remain flat, revenues for the next quarter aren't expected to dip and may actually grow, and the 4,000 announced job cuts were fewer than expected.
"The company is cutting back because business has not picked up. But they are not cutting so sharply that they will be left empty-handed for what they forecast will be a better market in 2003," wrote Joseph.
But don't get too enthusiastic. Joseph still expects consensus estimates for the stock to see slight reductions, based on lower-than expected Q3 revenue and margin projections.