While flipping through some of the finance and IT free magazines that I get at work and came across an interesting article on INTC in the February 16, 2009 ComputerWorld magazine. The article, "Intel Looks to Pull Itself Out of Economic Hole", could be perceived as negative on the surface but after closer consideration offered me some assurance that INTC would prevail in the end.
The article described the horrendous fourth quarter that INTC endured where revenues fell 23% and profits 90%. In February INTC announced plans to close four manufacturing facilities in Malaysia, the Philippines and Silicon Valley that would reduce its workforce by 6,000 jobs. Things are so bad that INTC did not provide projections for the first quarter due to "economic uncertainty and limited visibility." Sounds bad, right?
The hope came from INTC's plans to invest $7 billion over the next two years upgrading U.S. factories in Arizona, Oregon and New Mexico so they can produce chips based on 32-nanometer (nm) technology and accelerate the shipments of it first 32nm chips into Q4/2009. Why is spending this much money during an economic downturn a good thing?
Forrester Research Inc. analyst Frank Gillett said not moving ahead with the 32nm plan could blunt the company's hard-earned technology edge over Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD). This is the is the fundamental core of INTC's competitive strategy - use its huge cash flow to constantly push into manufacturing technologies that lower costs, making investments that can't be matched by competitors. Will this work?
Leslie Fiering pointed out that one of INTC's tremendous strength's is process control in manufacturing. Contrast that with AMD's strategy of spinning off all its manufacturing into a new joint venture and relinquishing some control over the manufacturing process. INTC is smart enough to play both sides of the fence. Its deal with Taiwan Semi will let INTC cut costs in making chips that rely on older manufacturing technology while putting its money into pushing the new manufacturing technologies where its future lies.
While most analysts are projecting significant drops in chip sales during 2009, INTC has the vision and ability to execute its long-term strategy. The road will not be smooth, but it in the end, my money is on Intel.
Full Disclosure: Long INTC
Additional Reference: 20 stocks worth watching
Tags: [AMD] [INTC]