Intel's earnings more than double, exceeding the experts' predictions Sales rise by 41%; stock price hits new high, and a split is authorized

THE BALTIMORE SUN

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Intel Corp. said fourth-quarter earnings more than doubled as sales rose 41 percent, beating the most optimistic analysts' estimates.

Intel said net income rose to $1.91 billion, or $2.13 a share, from $867 million, or 98 cents, in the year-earlier period.

Sales rose to $6.44 billion from $4.58 billion.

Analysts expected earnings of $1.83, based on the average estimate of 35 analysts surveyed by IBES International Inc. The highest estimate was $2.05.

The world's largest chip maker's stock closed at an all-time high of $147.125, up 25 cents. Intel released its quarterly numbers after the close of U.S. stock-market trading.

The company said its board authorized a 2-for-1 stock split through a special distribution. Shareholders will vote May 21 on the split.

Intel said it expects revenue in the first quarter to be unchanged from the $6.44 billion in the fourth quarter, and expects expenses to rise between 4 percent and 5 percent from the $1.2 billion in the fourth quarter.

"Intel hit on all cylinders in 1996," Chief Executive Andrew Grove said in a statement. "Our manufacturing performance was superb as we ramped to meet increased demand."

Grove said the company's performance was driven by the growth in the Internet, personal-computer sales in emerging markets and corporate PC and software upgrades.

Intel's gross margin widened to 63 percent from 49 percent in the year-earlier period.

The company said it doesn't expect the margin to remain that high, and has indicated in the past that the margin is more likely to be in the mid-50s.

The margin was helped by a lower percentage of motherboard products, which include a processor and other chips that form the guts of a personal computer. Motherboards are more expensive to make and less profitable.

Unit shipments of microprocessors set new records, the company said, though some prices fell for flash memory, embedded processors and microcontrollers.

Intel said it will increase capital spending to $4.5 billion this year from $3 billion in 1996.

Intel also said it will pay a "thank you" bonus of $1,000 to each of its 48,500 employees.

Pub Date: 1/15/97

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