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Expect Intel to outperform vs other semiconductors: Experts

The Intel booth at the CEATEC Japan 2013 exhibition in Chiba City
Kiyoshi Ota | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The semiconductors sector may be nearly 8 percent lower this year, but a bright spot for investors in this space could be Intel.

The California-based chipmaker is due to report third-quarter earnings Tuesday after the bell, and several analysts expect it to at least meet Wall Street's estimates for a number of reasons. Wall Street expects earnings per share of 59 cents on revenue of $14.22 billion, according to a Thomson Reuters consensus estimate.

"We're starting to see more PC stabilization [at Intel]," said Ian Ing, executive director at MKM Partners.

PC sales have plummeted recently, falling 10.8 percent in the third quarter, according to research firm IDC.

"However, we think INTC was early to fully destock, compared to broad-based semis, as INTC's expensive CPU chips are an area of focus to deplete inventory and improve the cash conversion cycle," Ing said in a note.

"People think of Intel as a PC company, but they're really not," said Timothy Arcuri, a technology analyst at Cowen & Co.

The company has recently been shifting its core business from PCs to its data center business, which now accounts for more than 50 percent of its profitability.

In fact, revenue from the data center business grew 9.7 percent to $3.85 billion in the second quarter from a year earlier.

"With headwinds to the PC market, [the data center] is becoming more important," said Alex Gauna, technology analyst at JMP securities.

Ing noted that the company's shift has been possible because of CEO Brian Krzanich. "They're partnering in China versus implementing their logos there, and that's apparent in their purchase of Altera."

Intel agreed to buy Altera for $16.7 billion, or $54 a share, on June 1.

The Dow component also has another positive going for it, Arcuri said.

"Taiwan's ODMs were seasonably higher," Arcuri said, referring to the original manufacturer design business in Taiwan. He said there is a strong correlation between the demand for Intel products and Taiwanese ODMs.

Third-quarter Taiwan ODM sales posted their first above-seasonal performance this year, Arcuri said in a Thursday note.

While Ing, Gauna and Arcuri believe Intel's earnings have a great chance of at least being in line, they note that the rest of semiconductors may not be as lucky.

"We are pretty cautious on the broader semiconductors space," Ing said, citing a slowdown in China for companies in the sector.

Arcuri also noted that demand in China remained "iffy," while Gauna said he expects to see mixed earnings results within the sector.

"There will be pockets of strength in smartphones and mobility," Gauna said.

—Reuters contributed to this report.

Disclosures: JMP Securities is a market maker in Intel and expects to receive or intends to seek compensation for investment banking services from the subject company in the next three months.