The Troubled PC Market Is Not Quite Dead Yet, Intel Corp. Confirms

By Markets Fool.com

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Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) shares were exploring brand-new multiyear highs on Friday thanks to boosted third-quarter guidance. The PC systems industry at large is refilling empty component warehouses, and system demand appears to be on the rise.

Intel doesn't provide mid-quarter guidance updates often, but these releases tend to move markets when they do appear. On an otherwise gloomy market day, Intel shares rose as much as 4.7% in the morning session. Intel shareholders like yours truly can now look back at market-beating returns of 25% over the last year, plus that comfortable 2.3% dividend yield.

The news

Intel's original third-quarter sales guidance pointed to $14.9 billion, give or take $500 million. The new outlook is roughly $15.6 billion, with a $300 million margin of error on either side. The very top of the old view barely eclipsed the bottom end of the updated range, and the midpoint rose 4.7% higher.

Elsewhere, gross margin was boosted by 2 percentage points. Operating expenses will come in $100 million above existing expectations, and the effective income tax rate moved from 21% to 22%.

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Doing the math on Intel's detailed guidance, the bottom-line GAAP midpoint moved from $0.60 to $0.68 per diluted share. On an adjusted basis, earnings guidance rose from $0.66 to $0.72 per diluted share. Analysts have been toeing that non-GAAP guidance line, so the guidance update exceeded Wall Street's current expectations.

Market impact

Intel's rosy outlook spilled over into other PC component makers. Memory chip specialist Micron Technology (NASDAQ: MU) gained 3.7% at most and Intel's archrival Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ: AMD) surged as much as 4.1% higher.

In short, investors and market makers took a deep drink of Intel's positive PC market signs. The reaction was very specific, and did not translate into enterprise computing. For example, the enterprise-oriented Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (NYSE: HPE) saw share gains stopping at just 0.6% while consumer-oriented sister company HP(NYSE: HPQ) raced as much as 3.4% higher.

Mind you, the tea leaves were already pointing in this direction. Just three weeks ago, HP noted that the PC market was improving -- and slightly faster than management had expected. Market tracker IDC still saw a decline in global PC sales in the second quarter, but the drop was only half as large as expected.

Regardless, confirmation of these positive tidbits from Intel itself was a welcome relief. We'll know much more in a month or so, when Intel and many other PC component makers are scheduled to report full results for the third calendar quarter.

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Anders Bylund owns shares of Intel and Micron Technology. The Motley Fool recommends Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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