Earnings Preview: Watching Intel for Clues to the PC Sector

Intel (INTC) reports first-quarter earnings after the market close Tuesday, and analysts will be closely watching what the chip maker says to get some indication of the global demand for PCs.

Intel is considered a bellwether for the tech sector because it provides the chips that go into most of the world’s computers. In January, Intel reported one of its most profitable quarters ever, and analysts are expecting strong processor demand in the first quarter of 2010. Compared with the same period in 2009, the semiconductor market is expected to show significant improvement–which shouldn’t be too difficult, given the dismal market amid the economic crisis last year. Specifically, most analysts are looking for confirmation of growth coming from corporate purchases, rather than just strong demand from consumers.

“Things Are Good in PC, but Don’t Tell Anyone”–the title of the pre-earnings report from Oppenheimer–sets the tone for analysts. Oppenheimer’s Rick Schafer writes that he is looking for “a strong PC cycle in 2010,” driven mainly by a rebound in business spending.

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