Intel Corporation (INTC): This May Be The Company’s Most Important Decision in 10 Years

Editor’s note: This article was originally published yesterday. Intel reports its earnings today.

As if Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) didn’t already take a beating last week after first-quarter PC shipments plunged, investors should brace themselves for the distinct possibility of more downside this week.

Intel is set to report tomorrow after the close. The Street is expecting Chipzilla to put up about $12.6 billion in sales, which should translate into earnings per share of $0.40. Intel’s new Haswell chips are due out in a matter of months, although they may not be enough to spur meaningful PC demand.

There have also been recent concerns about Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC)’s factory utilization. The current levels of approximately 60% are well below normal, according to Tirias Research analyst Jim McGregor. That’s why the potential expansion of Intel’s foundry business could be an important strategic opportunity, since those multibillion-dollar factories aren’t going to pay for themselves by sitting idle.

Investor expectations are likely already muted following the PC figures, and focus may shift to CEO succession; Paul Otellini’s planned retirement is coming up next month. The company had said it would look at both external and internal candidates, and investors will be looking for some clarity on who may lead the company next.

Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC)While internal candidates will know the highly technical business better, some fresh external blood could give Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) a new perspective on how to tap mobile growth. Some analysts consider the CEO decision Intel’s most important in a decade.

There’s been plenty of speculation. Internal execs Brian Krzanich and David Perlmutter may have a shot. External names may include Sanjay Jha, who was CEO of Motorola Mobility before Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) acquired the smartphone maker. Jha also has extensive experience at mobile chip giant QUALCOMM, Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOM), who in many ways has become the Intel of mobile.

There’s even been talk that ARM Holdings plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:ARMH) CEO Warren East could be considered. He announced his own retirement from the British chip designer last month, effective July, after 12 years as CEO. East has led ARM as the company’s architecture chip designs have become ubiquitous in mobile devices; licensee Qualcomm owns roughly half of the smartphone processor market.