Intel Corporation (INTC)’s 4th Quarter 2014 Earnings Conference Call Transcript

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Stacy Smith, Chief Financial Officer
Thanks, Brian. To reiterate what Brian said, the 4th Quarter was a strong finish to a great year. Revenue of $14.7 billion was a record for the company, and was up 6% from the prior year. The strength of our product portfolio can be seen in our gross margin of over 65%, and in our profitability. Operating income grew 25%, and earnings per share which also benefited from the passage of the R&D tax credit, grew 45% from a year ago. From a market perspective, we saw nice unit and revenue growth in the PC Client Group segment, with revenue up 3% and operating profit up 18%, on a year over year basis. The Data Center Group benefited from the build-out of the cloud, data analytics and our strong product portfolio. This business achieved 25% revenue growth, and 39% profit growth year over year.

The company saw modest increase in net inventory levels quarter over quarter, as we were efficiently managing capacity, while ramping Broadwell on 14-nanometer. The worldwide PC supply chain appears to be healthy, with inventory levels appropriate as we enter the 1st Quarter. These results for the 4th Quarter completed a strong year for Intel.
Recapping the 2014 financials: For full-year 2014, revenue of $55.9 billion was up 6%, operating income of $15.3 billion was up 25%, and earnings-per-share of $2.31 was up 22% from 2013. Gross margin of approximately 64% in 2014 is up about 4 points from 2013. Spending on R&D and G&A was $19.7 billion in 2014, up $1 billion from 2013, driven primarily by increased R&D spending, and higher profit-dependent spending. In 2014, both our PC business and our data center business outperformed our expectations at the start of the year. PC Client Group revenue grew by 4%. We saw PC Client Group platform volumes grow 8% from a year ago, and inclusive of tablets, we saw 18% unit growth. Operating profit for the PC Client Group segment was up 25% over the same horizon. We saw robust growth in our Data Center business, with 8% unit growth leading to 18% revenue growth from 2013, and operating profit growth of 31%.

Additionally, in comparison to 2013, the Internet of Things segment achieved revenue growth of 19%. The software and services operating segment was up slightly. Our NAND business grew at a fast pace, and although revenue was down for the Mobile and Communications Group, we grew share in tablets. The business continued to generate significant cash, with $20.4 billion of cash from operations in 2014. Total cash balances at the end of the year was roughly $14.1 billion, down approximately $6 billion from a year ago. We purchased $10.1 billion in capital assets, down from our prior outlook of $11 billion, as we found efficiencies, optimized the manufacturing network and increased our factory utilization. In addition, we paid $4.4 billion in dividends, and in November, we announced the dividend increase to $0.96 per share on an annual basis, effective for the 1st quarter of 2015. We repurchased about $10.8 billion of stock in 2014, up from $2.1 billion in 2013. Our net cash balance – total cash less debt, is approximately $340 million, and inclusive of our other longer-term investments, is more than $4 billion. This is down by over $5.5 billion from the start of the year.

As we look forward to the first quarter of 2015, we are forecasting the mid-point of the revenue range at $13.7 billion, plus or minus $500 million, down about 7% from the 4th Quarter. This forecast is in line with the average seasonal decline for the 1st Quarter. We are forecasting the midpoint of the gross margin range for the 1st Quarter to be 60%, plus or minus a couple of points. Consistent with the business drivers discussed in the November investor meeting, the 5 point decline from the 4th Quarter is primarily driven by higher platform unit costs on 14-nanometer products, higher factory start-up costs, and lower platform volumes.

Turning to full-year 2015, we are planning for revenues to grow in the mid-single digits. We are forecasting the midpoint of our gross margin range at 62%, plus or minus a couple of points. We are forecasting R&D and MG&A spending for the year at $20 billion plus or minus $400 million, and we are forecasting capital spending of $10 billion plus or minus $500 million.
2014 was a great year and the financials demonstrate our strategy and action as we enter 2015. First, we are growing again across a broad range of products and markets. Second, we continue to invest in our core competitive advantages of leadership IT and leadership manufacturing. These competitive advantages are becoming increasingly valuable, and increasingly rare. Third, we are in a great position to benefit from the build out of the cloud and data analytics as we enter 2015, and we expect these trends to drive growth again this year. And last, we continue to execute to our strategy of both investing in our business, and also generating return for our shareholders, via the dividend and the buy-back. With that, let me turn it back over to Mark.

Mark Henninger, Head of Investor Relations
Okay, thank you, Brian and Stacy. Moving on to the Q&A, as is our normal practice, we would ask each participant to ask one question and just one follow-up, if you have one. Jamie, please introduce our first questioner.

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