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Intel Q4 revenue beats estimates, netbook interest continues to crater

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Intel reported $13.9 bilion in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2011, beating its own estimates despite flood-induced hard drive shortages and dwindling interest in Atom-powered netbooks.

Intel Headquarters (press photo)
Intel Headquarters (press photo)

Intel lowered its revenue forecast in December, anticipating a drop due to hard drive shortages caused by the flooding in Thailand. Today the numbers hit, and it turns out the company beat those reduced estimates. Intel reported $13.9 billion in revenue for the quarter — its reduced estimate had come in at $13.7 billion — up 21 percent from the same time last year. While a pleasant surprise given the circumstances, the figure still represents a two percent drop compared to Q3 of this year, owing to decreased sequential revenues from its PC Client Group, as well as rapidly-dwindling interest in netbooks. The company's Atom line was the worst offender, with revenues dropping 38 percent from the third quarter, and a whopping 57 percent from the same time last year.

Overall, Intel tallied $54 billion in revenue for 2011, a 24 percent increase, with CEO Paul Otellini pointing to the "mega-trend" of cloud computing as a major contributing factor: the company's Data Center Group recorded a 17 percent increase in revenue for the year, breaking the $10 billion ceiling for the first time. As for 2012, Intel is again being cautious — at least to start. It's forecasting $12.8 billion in revenue for the first quarter of the new year. "This decline is slightly more than the average seasonal decline," CFO Stacy J. Smith said per Seeking Alpha's transcript of the earnings call. "We expect the shortage of hard disk drives to continue to impact our business in the first quarter."

As for the rest of the year? The company anticipates revenue growth in the high single digits, with ultrabooks unsurprisingly pegged as a product with particular upside. "People are very excited about the feature set and having the PC reenergized," Otellini said. "In terms of a target, what we said before is that our goal this year will be to exit the year at about 40 percent of consumer notebooks being ultrabook [sic]."