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Intel shares jump on upbeat outlook

Results defy industry view of muted PC growth

Intel Corp shares rose nearly 4 percent on Wednesday, the day after the chipmaker forecast an upbeat fourth quarter that underscored its strength in emerging markets, and prompted at least seven brokerages to raise their price target on the stock.

On Tuesday, Intel forecast fourth-quarter revenue above Wall Street’s expectations, defying concerns that tablets and a shaky economy are eating into demand for personal computers.

Continued traction in developing economies, along with continued momentum in use of Cloud-related services and Windows 8’s potential will be the catalysts for Intel’s growth in 2012, Robert W. Baird said in a note to clients.

Baird, which maintained its “outperform” rating on Intel, also expects the company to benefit from PC demand in developing economies. It raised its price target on the stock to $32 from $29.

Intel shares were up 3.9 percent at $24.31 in morning Nasdaq trading. Earlier the stock rose to $24.48 — its highest level since 2008.

Analysts say Intel also benefited from supply shortages at rival Advanced Micro Devices.

JPMorgan analysts said that although Intel’s forecast was above Wall Street estimates, it was below normal seasonality due to a slowdown in Europe and mature markets, and customers maintaining lean inventory levels.

Intel’s processors are used in about 80 percent of the world’s PCs. The company is also promoting Ultrabooks, a new super-thin category of laptops using Intel processors — similar to Apple’s MacBook Air.

As the first-generation Ultrabooks are launched, Intel remains optimistic about their potential and thinks average selling prices can get to as low as $699 a year from now, UBS analyst Maynard Um wrote in a research note.

Early Ultrabook models, meant to combine the best features of tablets and laptops, may seem expensive to consumers, analysts say. But as they get new features, such as touchscreens and “instant on” capability, Intel expects the Ultrabooks to account for 40 percent of the consumer PC market by the end of next year.

The Santa Clara, California-based company also posted third-quarter earnings that beat expectations and said developing countries like China were fueling expansion.

“These results continue to defy industry research estimates for muted PC unit growth,” Stifel analyst Kevin Cassidy said.

In September, research firm Gartner slashed its growth forecast for the global PC market this year to 3.8 percent from 9.3 percent, citing slower economies in Western Europe and the United States.

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