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How chips, PCs, services companies are faring

By The Associated Press
January 4, 2012
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A look at how selected companies providing computers, components, services and related software are faring:

Oct. 17, 2011: IBM beat analysts' net income forecasts for the third quarter and raised its earnings outlook for the full year thanks to the success of its software and services businesses. However, IBM slightly missed on the revenue forecast, reviving questions about the company's ability to bring in enough new business to fuel its expected growth. It comes as some analysts fear that corporations and government agencies may spend less on IBM products and services if the economy remains weak.

Oct. 18: Apple Inc. had no new iPhone or iPad release during the quarter. As a result, laptops were Apple's strongest category. Sales were up 30 percent from the previous quarter thanks to the release of a new operating system, Lion. Total Mac sales set an all-time record at 4.9 million.

Intel Corp.'s results offered some comfort for investors jittery about the weak state of the global computer market. Net income rose 17 percent and revenue rose 29 percent, topping Wall Street targets. Intel CEO Paul Otellini credited stronger sales of processors for laptop PCs and servers.

EMC Corp., the world's largest maker of data storage computers, says strong worldwide demand for its cloud computing and data storage products and services contributed to a 28 percent growth in net income.

Oct. 19: Western Digital Corp. says earnings rose 21 percent and revenue rose 12 percent as the maker of hard drives topped Wall Street's forecasts despite a sluggish personal-computer market. The company has warned about a disruption in supply because it had to temporarily close factories in Thailand because of heavy flooding.

Oct. 20: Microsoft Corp.'s Windows franchise regained some of its vigor during the company's latest quarter, the first time Microsoft has posted a year-over-year gain in Windows revenue since the end of 2010. Revenue in the Windows division grew nearly 2 percent to $4.87 billion. The modest gain was slightly below the 3.2 percent to 3.6 percent rise in personal computer shipments during the quarter, based on estimates by Gartner Inc. and IDC.

Hard drive maker Seagate Technology PLC says its first-quarter net income fell, as revenue gains were eaten up by higher interest and other expenses. Seagate has warned of delays because of flooding in Thailand. Although factories there are operational, the company is having difficulty getting some components. It says supply will be constrained the rest of the year, though the magnitude of the disruption is currently unclear.

Oct. 24: Texas Instruments Inc. says net income fell 30 percent as demand weakened. The company says profits were hurt because of costs from using its factories less as it reduced production in response to weaker demand. It also had charges for out-of-date inventory. Those were partially offset by insurance proceeds related to the Japan earthquake in March.

Oct. 25: Xerox Corp. says net income increased 28 percent, helped by higher revenue from services such as document outsourcing. The company bought outsourcer Affiliated Computer Services for $6 billion last year so it could expand lucrative service offerings. Its traditional printer and copier business had suffered during the recession as companies cut back on spending.

Oct. 27: Advanced Micro Devices Inc. recorded a profit, reversing a loss a year ago, thanks to strong demand for its chips in laptops and from emerging markets such as China and India. Revenue grew 4 percent despite supply constraints. Last month, AMD cut its outlook for the quarter because of manufacturing problems that prevented AMD from making as many of a new type of chip called "Llano" as it wanted. On Nov. 3, it cuts some 1,400 workers, or about 12 percent.

Nov. 2: Lenovo Group Ltd. says its profit in the first half of the year nearly doubled. Strong growth in "emerging cities" inside China, which accounts for nearly 44 percent of Lenovo's sales, helped drive the company's strong performance. Sales in emerging markets elsewhere also did well.

Qualcomm Inc., which makes chips for mobile phones, is benefiting from rising smartphone use. It reports stronger-than-expected results in the latest quarter because of that demand, particularly in emerging markets and in phones using third-generation, or 3G, technology -- the common type available today. Morgan Keegan analyst Tavis McCourt says the increasing popularity of smartphones and tablet computers was benefiting the company.

Nov. 10: Nvidia Corp. says earnings in the latest quarter more than doubled as demand for its computer chips climbed. Sales of its graphics processors grew as more gamers and professional users snapped up laptops that use its chips. The company's Tegra chip, which goes into smartphones and tablet computers, is also gaining ground as it hits shelves in a growing number of mobile devices. The company released the latest version of this chip, Tegra 3, during the quarter.

Nov. 15: Dell Inc. says revenue from large corporations rose 4 percent to $4.5 billion, while revenue from consumers fell 6 percent to $2.8 billion. The customer PC market has been hurt by the economy and competition from tablet computers and smartphones. Dell also says revenue will likely be hampered over the next few quarters because of a shortage in hard drives resulting from heavy flooding in Thailand.

Nov. 16: Applied Materials Inc. says net income dipped 3 percent as demand fell for the chip equipment it manufactures. The company also predicted results for the current quarter that are lower than analysts expect. Applied Materials serves as a barometer for technology spending because major makers of chips and LCD screens and even solar cells depend on its equipment.

Nov. 17: Marvell Technology Group Ltd., which makes digital storage devices and network components and chips for smartphones and other wireless devices, says its profit fell as sales decreased and it took charges related to legal and tax costs and other items. Marvell says sales to the mobile and wireless device markets increased. It expects it will be affected by flooding in Thailand, but believes it has a strong balance sheet and diverse sources of revenue to manage those effects.

Nov. 21: Hewlett-Packard Co. says revenue in three of its biggest divisions -- personal computers, printers and ink, and servers and networking -- fell. It gives an outlook that was lower than most analysts' targets. HP cited turmoil in Europe amid the debt crisis there, soft consumer spending and weakening spending by businesses.

Dec. 8: Texas Instruments lowers its outlook for its fourth-quarter revenue and earnings, saying demand had weakened for a variety of products that use its chips. The weak economy in the United States and elsewhere has hurt demand. TI says it has seen "broadly lower demand across a wide range of markets, customers and products" except for wireless-applications processors, which are used in smartphones and tablets.

Chip-maker Altera Corp. cuts its fourth-quarter revenue outlook, citing weaker-than-expected demand. The company says that while its North America region will be helped by stronger military sales, sales will be weak to its other regions.

Dec. 12: Intel cuts its revenue outlook for the current quarter, saying that companies are reducing their inventories due to shortages of hard drives following heavy flooding in Thailand, where the supplies are made. The announcement causes shares for the entire microchip sector to sink.

Dec. 20: Oracle Corp. shows it stumbled in its latest quarter as the business software maker struggled to close deals, a signal of possible trouble ahead for the technology sector. The performance covered a period of economic turbulence, which has raised concerns that major companies and government agencies may curtail technology spending.

Wednesday: Seagate says it shipped more hard disk drives in its December quarter than it had expected. It says revenue for that quarter will be above its earlier guidance. Seagate also raises its outlook for revenue in the current quarter, which ends in March. Its stock jumped more than 7 percent in extended trading following the announcement.

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