Intel inches up Q4 forecast

Intel inched the bar higher for fourth-quarter revenue expectations Thursday, citing better than expected demand for its PC processors during the quarter.

The chip maker now expects revenue to be between US$6.7 billion and $6.9 billion for the fourth quarter, which ends Dec. 29. At the end of Intel's third quarter, it said it expected revenue of between $6.2 billion and $6.8 billion.

Prior to the end of Intel's third quarter, analysts had been expecting sales of $6.8 billion for the fourth quarter, according to a First Call estimate.

Compared to Intel's third quarter, the fourth quarter is almost "perfectly seasonal," Andy Bryant, Intel's chief financial officer, said in a conference call following the announcement. Sales in Europe and Asia-Pacific have increased slightly from the third quarter, with the Americas and Japan remaining essentially flat during the quarter, he said.

Business has increased for both the business and consumer markets, Bryant said.

The quarter has also seen growing demand from both large OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and smaller "white box" vendors, Bryant said. "It's absolutely across both sets of customers," he said.

Microsoft Corp.'s release of its Windows XP operating system probably played a role in fourth-quarter PC sales, Bryant said. "It's having some positive contribution, but it's really hard to be able to tell how much," he said.

Prior to the announcement, shares of Intel (INTC) dropped $0.45, or 1.3 percent, on the Nasdaq.

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Douglas F. Gray

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