Intel falls on delay of future chip technology

  • Intel beat on earnings and revenue, and guidance was above expectations.
  • In the quarter CEO Brian Krzanich suddenly stepped down.

Intel stock fell by more than 6 percent on Thursday following the release of the company's second-quarter earnings, which were better than expected.

Here's how the company did in the quarter:

  • Earnings: $1.04 per share, excluding certain items, vs. 96 cents per share expected by analysts, according to Thomson Reuters.
  • Revenue: $16.96 billion, vs. $16.77 billion as expected by analysts, according to Thomson Reuters.

The company said in a statement that revenue for the quarter grew 15 percent year over year, which is up from the 9 percent growth a year ago.

"We feel like we're building great momentum to the first six months and we're really excited about execution on the second half as we go into 2019," Intel's interim CEO, Bob Swan, told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" on Friday. "So we feel great about the quarter."

Still, Intel's stock was down more than 8 percent midafternoon Friday.

"There's concerns about our gross margins in the fourth quarter and we understand that," Swan said. "The practical reality is the three things that are driving [Intel] are healthy for our business."

Those three things are continued growth in the modem and memory businesses, and progress on the 10-nanometer chip.

"We've seen growth in the enterprise sector as well," Swan said. "The needs for data to be analyzed, compute, stored, retrieved, and faster and faster times; the demand at the end user is growing exponentially."

Intel's biggest business segment, the Client Computing Group, came up with $8.73 billion in revenue in the second quarter, above the FactSet analyst consensus of $8.48 billion. PC volumes were down 1 percent year over year even as the average selling price for desktop products rose 13 percent, Intel said.

"That's creating demand for compute capacity, both in the cloud and more recently in the enterprise," Swan said. "We think this is a trend that's going to be with us for awhile."

The second-largest Intel segment, its Data Center Group, generated $5.55 billion in revenue, which is under the $5.64 billion consensus estimate. And Intel's Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group had revenue totaling $1.08 billion, which is behind the $1.11 billion estimate.

With respect to guidance, Intel said it expects $1.15 in earnings per share, excluding certain items, on $18.1 billion in revenue in the third quarter. Analysts had expected $1.08 in earnings per share, excluding certain items, on revenue of $17.60 billion for the period, according to Thomson Reuters.

The company also raised its outlook for the full year, bringing it to $4.15 in earnings per share, excluding certain items, on $69.5 billion in revenue. For the full year analysts had been looking for $4.01 per share, excluding certain items, on $68.43 billion in revenue, according to Thomson Reuters.

"We believe that [Intel's Client Computing Group] alone could increase by $1 billion sequentially due in part to the baseband modem ramp at Apple," Nomura Instinet analysts led by Romit Shah said in a Monday note. The analysts also said Intel's Data Center Group could grow again in the third quarter given Microsoft's expected increases in capital expenditures.

In the second quarter, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich suddenly stepped down after having a consensual relationship with another Intel employee in violation of the company's non-fraternization policy. Chief Financial Officer Bob Swan became interim CEO. The company has begun a search for a permanent replacement.

At the same time, Intel has been facing pressure from competitors as it seeks to get to the next generation of products as soon as possible.

But Swan said he doesn't mind the rivalry. "We're used to competition along the way. We invite it," he said.

On Wednesday AMD stock rose 14 percent after the company beat second-quarter expectations. Krzanich told analysts in April that volume chip production with Intel's 10-nanometer process was getting delayed from the second half of 2018 to 2019.

"Even with an interim CEO in place, Intel cannot afford to leave the top post vacant for too long, particularly given the process challenges and competitive threats the company faces," Argus Research analyst Jim Kelleher wrote in a note last month.

The core numbers will take a back seat to the technical issues and leadership shuffle for now, Bernstein analysts led by Stacy Rasgon said in a Friday note.

In the second-quarter results, Intel said that its 10-nanometer yields are "on track" with systems on the market in the second half of 2019. Krzanich's previous perspective wasn't specific on whether they would arrive in the first half of next year or in the second half. On the conference call with analysts on Thursday, Swan was more specific and said products would be on shelves in time for the holiday season.

Murthy Renduchintala, group president of the technology, systems architecture and client group, said on the call that the products that will become available in 2019 are client computing products, whereas products for data center use will come "shortly after." The stock fell further after those comments but later rebounded as executives talked about ongoing research and development for next-generation 7-nanometer technology.

Meanwhile, Swan said the company will work with customers and its own manufacturing plants to ensure that it has enough capacity to meet demand for server and PC products, Swan said.

In his prepared remarks, Swan didn't provide a meaningful update on the CEO search. He did say that while there is no timetable to appoint a new leader, the board is working with a sense of urgency.

On Friday, Swan confirmed he's not interested in the job. "I absolutely love my day job," he said. "I love being the CFO."

During the conference call, Swan praised Krzanich.

"Personally, and on behalf of Intel's 100,000 plus employees, I'd like to thank Brian for his many contributions to the company over his 35-year career," Swan said. "The investments he made set us on a course for transformation. Even more importantly, he developed the right strategy and leadership team to carry that transformation forward while we conduct the CEO search."

Intel stock was up about 13 percent since the beginning of the year as of Thursday.