Intel's weak outlook, spending hikes unnerve Wall Street

Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:43pm EST
 
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By Noel Randewich

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Intel Corp forecast quarterly revenue that disappointed Wall Street and a sharp increase in capital spending it plans for 2013 unnerved investors already concerned about slow demand for personal computers.

Shares of the world's leading chipmaker slid more than 5 percent in after-hours trade on Thursday after it projected this year's capital spending at $13 billion, plus or minus $500 million, exceeding many analysts' estimates for about $10 billion.

Intel said $2 billion of its increased expenditures would go toward expanding a facility for researching future manufacturing technology. Some analysts worried that with PC sales already slow, expanding too quickly may create excess capacity that could hurt the bottom line.

"People are starting to freak out about the capex," said Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Stacy Rasgon. "The concern is that if I spend a lot of money and I build up my factories, I don't have enough demand to fill them. They have very high fixed costs, and it pulls your margins down."

Outgoing Chief Executive Paul Otellini, who plans to retire in May after a successor is identified, said the investment in manufacturing would lower costs in the long run.

"The leading edge capacity is the lowest cost for us on a per unit basis," Otellini told analysts on a conference call. "Regardless of what you think the size of the market is, the leading edge fabs are the single greatest asset that we have."

Otellini said the higher capex is not intended to bankroll a foundry or contract chipmaking business, but he did not rule out manufacturing semiconductors for other chip companies as long as that did not empower a rival.

Intel has agreed to manufacture custom chips on behalf of networking equipment company Cisco Systems Inc, Bloomberg reported on Thursday. An Intel spokesman declined to comment.   Continued...

 
Showgoers visit the Intel booth on the first day of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in this January 8, 2013, file photo. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/Files