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Intel says PC sales are stabilizing, tablets picking up slack

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Intel CES 2013 stock 1 1020
Intel CES 2013 stock 1 1020

Intel is reporting its fourth-quarter and full-year earnings for 2013, and it includes some good news for the PC industry. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich sees "signs of stabilization" for the traditional computer market, which has been in its steepest, longest decline in history.

While the company reported smaller profits and revenue of $9.6 billion and $52.7 billion for the full year — compared to $11 billion and $53.3 billion, respectively, in 2012 — the company actually saw its PC revenue increase two percent, to $8.6 billion, since last quarter. Since that's also about the same amount of money Intel pulled in from PCs this time last year, and since sales of Intel chips are a pretty decent measure of how well the PC industry is doing, it does indeed suggest that the PC market might be starting to stabilize. We could be at the bottom of the trough. Intel says that it actually sold seven percent more desktop PC chips in the fourth quarter, on a year-over-year basis.

"We saw strong tablet growth"

According to Intel CFO Stacy Smith, tablets are also contributing to the company's sales now. "We saw strong tablet growth in the back half of the year, and inclusive of PC and tablets, our unit growth in the fourth quarter was up almost 10 percent from a year ago," he wrote in a CFO commentary document (PDF) accompanying the earnings release. However, the company's filings suggest that tablets may not be having much of a financial impact on Intel yet. Fourth-quarter revenue for "other Intel architecture operating segments" (which includes the company's Atom chips for tablets, phones, and netbooks) only rose by $87 million since the fourth quarter of last year.

We'll be on Intel's earnings call at 2PM PT today, and will update this post with anything else of interest.

Update: On the call, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich says that he expects the new technologies that Intel showed off at CES will be available later this year, including the SD-card sized Edison computer, and the company's wearable technology. He wasn't clear whether specific wearable prototypes shown at CES, such as the always-listening Jarvis headset, would be available, or just the chips within.

CFO Stacy Smith added that the company is shifting its future investements towards the data center, tablets, and low-power chips. The company hopes to sell 40 million tablet chips in 2014, says Krzanich, and expects that tablet manufacturers will release many of those devices in Q2 of this year.