The two-year slump in demand for computing may be ending as Intel, the world's top maker of microprocessors, reported strong growth but narrower margins for the fourth quarter 2009.
Sales were up 28% on the third quarter to $10.6bn, with operating income down 3% to $2.5bn. Net income was up 23% to $2.3bn, pushing earning per share (EPS) to 40 cents.
The full-year results showed a 7% drop in sales to $35.1bn, with operating income down 35% to $5.7bn. Net income slid 17% to $4.4bn and EPS was 77 cents, down 15 cents on the year.
Intel president and CEO Paul Otellini said the strong recovery reflected Intel's investment in industry-leading manufacturing and product innovation.
"This strategy has enabled us to generate unprecedented operating efficiencies while growing our traditional businesses and creating exciting new market opportunities, even in difficult economic times," he said.
"Our ability to weather this business cycle demonstrates that microprocessors are indispensable in our modern world. Looking forward, we plan to deliver the benefits of computing to an expanding set of products, markets and customers."
Intel launched a new family of microprocessors at the Consumer Electronics Show last week in Las Vegas. These energy-saving chips were the first to be based on cool-running 32 nanometer technology and include an onboard power management that switches off microprocessors when they are not required.
Intel is also aiming to get its Atom family of microprocessors, now popular in netbook computers, into mobile phones and embedded devices such as smart meters and monitoring equipment.