Intel's Report To Shine Light on Tech Sector - TheStreet

Intel's Report To Shine Light on Tech Sector

Investors see Intel's fourth-quarter results as a barometer for the state of the U.S. tech sector.
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. (TheStreet) -- Intel's (INTC) - Get Reportfourth quarter results, due after the closing bell on Thursday, will provide valuable insight into the state of tech spending.

Investors will be looking for signs of an ongoing PC recovery. With the recession clearly visible in the rearview mirror, strong Intel numbers could boost

confidence

in the broader U.S. economy.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expect Intel to report fourth quarter revenue of $10.17 billion and earnings of 30 cents a share, up from $8.2 billion and 4 cents a share over the same period last year. For the full year, analysts predict sales of $34.73 billion and earnings of 67 cents a share.

Intel has recently been cited as an

attractive technology stock

and the company is trading close to its 52-week high.

Boosted by the launch of

Microsoft's

(MSFT) - Get Report

Windows 7

operating system and the recent holiday season's solid sales numbers, there are signs that the PC market is getting back onto its feet after a tough spell. Intel is expected to

reap the benefits

. Analyst firm Gartner reported Wednesday that worldwide PC shipments in the fourth quarter grew at their strongest rate in seven years.

The number of PCs shipped during the quarter surpassed 90 million -- a 22.1% increase from the prior year, said Gartner. Intel has already noted a healthier economy, and

blew past

analyst estimates in its

third quarter

, despite falling profit.

In addition to an improvement in

PC sales

, there has also been talk on Wall Street of growing shipments from notebook and server manufacturers, which could spell good news for Intel.

The last few weeks have certainly been busy for Intel, which

unveiled

a slew of new processors at CES, including its first 32-nanometer offerings.

Housing vast numbers of transistors, the new Core i7, i5 and i3 chips can increase a computer's speed while decreasing energy consumption, according to Intel. The leap into 32-nanometer also increases the pressure on rival

AMD

(AMD) - Get Report

, which is expected to implement the technology sometime next year.

Other recent announcements from Intel include a new version of its Atom processor,

which is likely

to boost the company's revenue from netbooks.

Intel, which controls 80% of the worldwide CPU market, still faces plenty of challenges in the coming months, both from regulators and competitors.

In November, Intel agreed to pay a

$1.25 billion

settlement with rival AMD, ending the longstanding disputes between the two firms. The following month, however, the FTC hit the chipmaker with

antitrust charges

, increasing the regulatory pressure on the company, which is also fighting antitrust battles in Europe and South Korea.

Intel has already described the FTC's illegal sales practices charge as "misguided," and analysts will be looking for more information about the FTC battle on this evening's conference call.

Investors will also be eager to glean information about Intel's future roadmap, particularly after chatter that

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

won't be using Intel processors

inside its forthcoming Tablet device.

Intel is also likely to provide an update on its graphics strategy during its fourth-quarter conference call. The company is touting its new Core chips as the first to integrate graphics into mainstream PC processors for the likes of

3D gaming

. Last month, however, Intel

scrapped plans

for a standalone graphics chip called Larrabee, pushing up shares of rivals AMD and

Nvidia

(NVDA) - Get Report

.

-- Reported by James Rogers in New York