Intel expects revenue growth to slow to a crawl in the upcoming year, and coming off a fourth quarter in which revenue fell below expectations, investors are jittery.
During Intel’s fourth quarter, the company recorded $18.7 billion, up nine percent compared to last year but short of both company and analyst protections for $19 billion in revenue in what is usually the company’s strongest quarter of the year. Excluding special items, earnings per share came in at $1.28, ahead of expectations of $1.22 in earnings per share according to Yahoo Finance.
But it was the company’s outlook for the company year that seemed to have the most impact, sending shares down almost seven percent in after-hours trading after it said 2019 revenue would increase just one percent. On a conference call following the release of the results, interim CEO Bob Swan said the company saw greater than expected weakness in China during the fourth quarter, similar to the impact Apple said it felt earlier this month.
Swan also noted that cloud service providers like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft, who count among Intel’s biggest customers, are “absorbing capacity” as they upgrade older servers to Intel’s newest generation processors. During the fourth quarter AWS announced plans to use alternative server chips from AMD and its own custom Arm design, and if they prove popular that could make a dent in the company’s hammerlock on the server processor market. Intel projected that revenue from its data center group would decline slightly in its first quarter.
It also does not sound like Intel’s board is ready to hire a permanent CEO after Brian Krzanich resigned in June amid pressure over a romantic relationship with an Intel employee.
“The board continues to evaluate candidates for what I think is the best and the biggest job on the planet,” Swan said, later adding that he expected someone would be chosen “in the near future.”
[Editor’s note: This post was updated several times as more information became available and to clarify Swan’s quote.]