Though not even close in size, Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) and Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NYSE:AMD) share a number of attributes. Both chipmakers have made a living supplying PC manufacturers with processors, which is why Intel and AMD have something else in common: Both are trying to climb out of the hole they've dug for themselves the past year.
The problems AMD and Intel share are similar to others in the IT industry; each was too slow in transitioning its respective businesses to suit changes in the market. Mobile computing devices are snapped up as quickly as consumers can get their hands on them, leaving the PC market looking more and more like it's heading for a spot reserved for 8-track tapes and AM-only radios.
Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NYSE:AMD) Proving yet again a company's share price is more dependent on performing relative to analyst expectations than prior periods, AMD shareholders are enjoying a nice 17% jump in stock price since it announced earnings two days ago. Given the PC market, no one was surprised AMD's results declined almost across the board. The company's earnings, revenues, and operating income were all down compared with last year, and sequentially.
So why the nice bump in AMD's share price? Analysts had expected a loss of $0.21 a share, but instead AMD was only $0.14 a share in the red, handily beating expectations. And total revenues for the quarter came in close to what was expected, as AMD generated $1.16 billion in Q4 revenue. Yes, AMD's revenues were 32% less than 2011, but let's not split hairs.
To be fair, AMD did incur some significant one-time charges related to restructuring, and its inventory "situation" with GlobalFoundaries it announced last month. The alteration in AMD's planned wafer order from GlobalFoundaries was a big part of AMD's decision to write down $90 million in costs this past quarter.
As for 2013, and what it will take to turn AMD around, CEO Rory Read had this to say: "AMD continues to evolve our operating model and diversify our product portfolio with the changing PC environment." Too little, too late?
Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) One look at International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) should be all Intel CEO (for now) Paul Otellini needs to see. When IBM announced earnings recently, and raised expectations going forward, the reason for its nearly 5% pop in stock price was simple: CEO Ginni Rometty's and her predecessor's decision to focus on emerging technologies and markets -- namely, software services and cloud computing. Rather than continue selling hardware in an increasingly software-laden world, IBM changed direction, just as Intel must.
Otellini understands the future of Intel doesn't lie in desktop computers, though it certainly doesn't mind the $34.3 billion in revenues the unit generated in 2012. But you get to be Intel by anticipating market needs, and preparing to dominate them, not settling for stagnancy. Otellini has been slow to make the shift to the cloud and mobile computing solutions, but strides are being made before his May departure.
The bright spot in Intel's Q4 and 2012 earnings announcement was revenues from its Data Center Group unit -- in other words, cloud and enterprise computing-related products. At $10.7 billion in revenues last year, Intel's data center unit grew 6% compared with the prior year, the only business unit to show revenue growth.