Intel reported 69% year-over-year adjusted earnings growth and 23% year-over-year revenue growth for the first quarter, beating Wall Street’s targets for financial performance in a quarter that was affected at the end by the global pandemic.
The earnings report from one of the world’s biggest chipmakers is an important bellwether for the tech industry. But it’s also an early clue to how the coronavirus will affect the broader tech ecosystem. Most of January and February had normal results, but in March the early impact of COVID-19 was clearly evident.
Intel reported first-quarter revenues of $19.8 billion, up 23% from a year ago and driven by 33% growth in the data-centric business and 14% growth in PC revenues compared to a year ago. Adjusted earnings per share hit $1.45, up 63% from 89 cents per share a year earlier. Analysts expected the company to report profits of $1.27 a share on revenue of $18.7 billion.
Intel CEO Bob Swan said in a statement, “Our first-quarter performance is a testament to our team’s focus on safeguarding employees, supporting our supply chain partners, and delivering for our customers during this unprecedented challenge. The role technology plays in the world is more essential now than it has ever been, and our opportunity to enrich lives and enable our customers’ success has never been more vital. Guided by our cultural values, competitive advantages, and financial strength, I am confident we will emerge from this situation an even stronger company.”
The datacenter group saw revenue up 43% from a year ago, with 53% growth in cloud-service provider revenue. Intel’s memory and Mobileye businesses saw record quarters. The PC-centric business grew 14% versus a year ago — exceeding Intel’s expectations — on improved CPU supply and demand strength, now that more consumers and businesses are relying on PCs for working and learning from home.
Intel’s stock price is down 3.74% to $56.83 a share in after-hours trading. Analysts had expected the company to report full-year earnings per share of $4.83 on revenues of $72.4 billion.
The chipmaker also faces bigger competition than ever before from rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), which has more competitive chips across the board than it has ever had, thanks to its Zen 2 chip architecture and 7-nanometer manufacturing with partners like TSMC. AMD has steadily gained market share on Intel in the core processor market.
What a difference a quarter makes. The last earnings call took place in January after the massive CES gathering in Las Vegas, where thousands of companies showed off new wares. Now you can’t even walk down the Las Vegas Strip.
During the quarter, Intel donated $50 million in resources and cash to fight the coronavirus. It also launched its 10th Gen Core H-Series laptop processors. On March 24, Intel suspended share buybacks in light of the pandemic. The dividend is unchanged.
For the second quarter, Intel expects a sequential dip in revenue to $18.5 billion, with a non-GAAP operating margin of 30% and earnings per share of about $1.10 a share. Analysts had previously estimated revenues of $17.97 billion.
Patrick Moorhead, analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, said in a message:
Intel had a stellar Q1 revenue-wise as it increased 23% year on year and better than guidance. The datacenter group showed significant strength with an eye-watering 43% growth demonstrating continued growth from cloud, carriers, and enterprise. PCs were up 14% driven by strong sell-in to meet anticipated demand from work/school/govern from home. Like other tech giants, Intel pulled its annual guide, but it did keep it for Q2, which I thought was pretty good. I think investors will want to know more about the gross margin percent drop in Q2, but I think it’s likely costs associated with 10-nanometer Tiger Lake qualification.