Intel posts 'strongest second-to-third-quarter growth in over 30 years'

Looks like Intel wasn't kidding when it raised its revenue forecast for last quarter—the actual results surpass even the revised expectations. The chip maker has posted third-quarter revenue of $9.4 billion with $1.9 billion of net income and a 58% gross margin, marking its "strongest second-to-third-quarter growth in over 30 years." (For what it's worth, the company initially expected its Q3 revenue to reach $8.1-8.9 billion, and its latest forecast was $8.8-9.2 billion.)

Here's how the actual third-quarter results compare to those from the previous quarter as well as the same quarter a year ago:

  Q3 2008 Q2 2009 Q3 2009
Revenue $10.2 billion $8.0 billion $9.4 billion
Net income $2.0 billion -$398 million $1.9 billion
Gross margin 59% 51% 58%

Note that Intel would have posted net income of $1 billion last quarter if it weren't for the European Commission, which levied a massive $1.45 billion fine on the company in May.

Intel attributes the healthy third-quarter earnings to "record" CPU and chipset unit sales. Compared to the second quarter, revenue from Intel's Mobility Group grew by 19%, Digital Enterprise Group revenue went up 14%, and Atom CPU-and-chipset revenue soared by 15% to $415 million. Average selling prices for processors were "slightly down" from Q2, but as you can see above, gross margin also went up quite handily.

What about this quarter? Intel says it expects revenue to climb into the $9.7-10.5 billion range, which could mean results not far off from last year's record $10.7 billion. The chip maker also expects its gross margin to reach 59-65%—not too surprising, seeing as AMD is essentially unable to compete against the Core i7 line.

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