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Intel Blows Past Earnings Again--So Why..?

Intel
Intel

This was a big quarter for Intel, no matter how you slice. But while shares soared the moment this earnings news crossed the wires, as they did last quarter, they quickly settled back. Again.

As Wall Street worries about computer industry sluggishness. Again. Even though Intel isn't seeing that. Again.

Intel beat handily on the topline, and surged past expectations on the bottomline: 28 cents instead of the 25 cents Wall Street expected.

Gross margins also looked good: About 55 percent for last quarter, 58 percent for the current quarter, and 57 percent for the full year. All more than respectable, when you consider all the worries floating around about a global PC industry slowdown.

Just not happening according to Intel Chief Financial Officer Stacy Smith, who spoke to me soon after those numbers were released. (Look for the complete interview to post here shortly.)

The interesting thing about my chat with him: he was unabashedly optimistic. Doesn't mean his head is in the sand about those macro-economic worries -- it's just his company really isn't tracking any. Further, for a company generating 70 percent of revenue outside the U.S., he says he sees no slowdown in key markets like China, Europe or among the company's Taiwanese PC makers.

Further, he says Intel enjoyed record sales of laptop chips and chipsets. Laptops, he says, once again was a very bright spot for Intel's business.

I asked him about stock performance. He was characteristically wary to answer, giving me the typical "we work hard, stock price will follow" line. Even though it really hasn't. At least since December.

This was a stellar quarter for Intel. But again, investors are looking for a breakout. Something special. It didn't come from the financials, though these are the kind to do that kind of thing. Maybe it'll come from the conference call comments? Stacy Smith paints an even rosier picture than the company's actual earnings report. Which was a whole lot more than just pretty good.

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