Legal Win Lifts AMD Shares

The struggling chipmaker has a good week.
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A double dose of good news is providing a fresh boost to

Advanced Micro Devices'

(AMD) - Get Report

slumping shares.

A day after AMD released a

promising new set of chips aimed at the fast-growing notebook PC market

, the chipmaker scored an important legal victory in South Korea, sending AMD's stock up about 7% to $7.69.

According to press reports, the Korean Fair Trade Commission, which has been investigating AMD's arch-rival

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

for three years, fined Intel roughly $26 million after ruling that Intel had abused its dominant position in the microprocessor market.

According to a report in

Reuters

, the Korean Fair Trade Commission said that Intel offered rebates to South Korean PC makers such as

Samsung

and

Trigem Computer

between 2002 and 2005 on the condition that they not purchase microprocessors from AMD.

"Taking into account Intel's rebates, AMD could not possible fight Intel even if its chips were offered for free," the commission said, according to Reuters.

An Intel representative was not immediately available for comment, although press reports said the chipmaker would almost certainly appeal the ruling.

The ruling bolsters longstanding claims by AMD that its market share has been artificially compressed because of various unlawful business practices by Intel, the world's No.1 chip maker. AMD has sued Intel for antitrust violations in federal court in Delaware.

Last summer,

European Union regulators charged Intel with antitrust violations

, and New York State's Attorney General recently launched its own investigation into Intel's business practices.

Intel investors don't appear overly concerned about the legal liability -- Intel's stock was up 35 cents at $23.83 in midday trading Thursday.

And AMD's stock price has never really been tied to its legal docket to the same extent as other tech firms such as

Rambus

(RMBS) - Get Report

or

Qualcomm

(QCOM) - Get Report

, where intellectual property disputes are center stage.

In fact, on the day the European Commission charged Intel with market abuse in July 2007, AMD's stock actually declined more than 5%.

"This

legal stuff is kind of on the fringe," says Friedman Billings Ramsey analyst Craig Berger. "At the core, it's how competitive are the products, how good are the end markets, that type of stuff is ultimately more important" to AMD's stock.

But the timing of the Korean ruling is clearly helping AMD's stock bounce back, said Berger, who rates AMD's stock a hold.

"You had the new products yesterday, this legal news today, the shorts are probably scrambling," he says.

AMD's stock is up more than 12% in the past two days, although it is still trading 45% below where it was at this time last year.