Intel Q4 earnings preview: Chipmaker to report as AI sends tech stocks soaring

Intel (INTC) will report its fourth quarter earnings after the bell on Thursday, as tech stocks continue to rally on Wall Street’s ongoing exuberance for everything artificial intelligence.

Intel’s announcement comes as the company seeks to push its own AI bona fides and follows the debut of its Core Ultra line of PC chips in December, which Intel says will let consumers run AI apps directly on their laptops and desktops.

For the quarter, analysts are expecting adjusted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.44 on revenue of $15.2 billion. That would mark a huge improvement over the company’s performance in the same quarter last year when it reported earnings per share of $.10 on revenue of $14 billion.

It would also stand in stark contrast to Intel’s first quarter when it reported losses per share of $0.04.

Wall Street analysts anticipate a strong year-over-year recovery for Intel’s client computing group, which encompasses the chips side of the business that sells to PC makers and enthusiasts. Analysts expect the company to report client computing revenue of $8.4 billion, up from $6.6 billion in Q4 2022.

Intel is hoping its Core Ultra line of chips will further goose PC sales in the year ahead as consumers and enterprise customers who purchased new laptops and desktops at the onset of the pandemic in 2020 begin to look for replacement devices.

The Core Ultra includes a neural processing unit, or NPU, which allows PCs to run certain AI applications locally rather than requiring users to rely on cloud-based applications. The idea is that NPUs will let users access AI apps without having to be online. That would ensure users’ data stays on their devices rather than requiring them to send it to an AI firm’s servers.

But it’s still unclear exactly how useful onboard AI will actually be for consumers. And even Intel admits that it’s not quite sure what AI applications will look like outside of a few early examples such as local versions of ChatGPT-like apps and AI image-editing software.

Intel’s data center and AI segment revenue is expected to come in at $4.1 billion in the quarter, a decline from the $4.4 billion it generated in Q4 2022. The data center and AI business is Intel’s opportunity to take on rivals including Nvidia (NVDA) and AMD (AMD). In December, CEO Pat Gelsinger showed off the company’s upcoming Gaudi3 accelerator designed to power generative AI software and services.

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger speaks during an event called AI Everywhere in New York, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

On Wednesday, Intel announced the opening of its latest chip manufacturing facility in New Mexico. Intel is in the midst of a yearslong turnaround effort seeking to put the semiconductor maker back on top of the chip world after losing manufacturing leadership and market share to rivals like TSMC and AMD.

The company is also in the middle of its plan to become a foundry for other chip companies. Its Intel foundry services division is expected to generate $343 million in the quarter, up from $178 million in Q4 2022.

During the company’s Q3 earnings call, Gelsinger said Intel signed up two unnamed customers for its foundry service and that it was finalizing a deal with a third.

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Daniel Howley is the tech editor at Yahoo Finance. He’s been covering the tech industry since 2011. You can follow him on Twitter @DanielHowley.

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