Intel Steers Toward The Middle

Intel steered guidance toward the middle of the range after the bell on Thursday.

Intel said revenues will come in at $6.6-$6.8 billion when it reports earnings next month, narrowing the company’s previous guidance of $6.4-$7.0 billion. Analyst estimates are for $6.65 billion.

The company said its Intel Architecture business is trending toward the high end of the normal seasonal pattern. But it said demand remains soft for communications products, such as the new Centrino wireless-enabled chipset and flash memory devices that are used in digital cameras.

Intel didn’t disappoint investors, but it didn’t give them the evidence of a strong rebound that they were looking for either. The stock rose 2% after hours after initially dipping on the news.

Intel is probably the closest the tech sector has to a cyclical commodity company. The company grew revenues by just under 30% from 1998-2000 – but is now back to 1998 levels and holding. Microsoft and Cisco , on the other hand, have held onto their 50%-100% revenue gains from 1998-2000, and Dell continues to grow.

The broader market initially sold off during the day on rising jobless claims and falling factory orders, but traders once again bought the dip. The European Central Bank cut rates by 50 basis points; recent comments by Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan suggest a possible rate cut by the U.S. Federal Reserve when it meets at the end of the month. May employment figures will be released tomorrow morning.

The Nasdaq rose 11 to 1646, the S&P 500 climbed 3 to 990, and the Dow added 2 to 9041. Volume rose to 1.68 billion shares on the NYSE, but declined to 2.48 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led 20-12 on the NYSE, and 19-12 on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 67% on the NYSE, and 60% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 528-1 on the NYSE, and 327-5 on the Nasdaq.

Rambus , our Company of the Week on Monday, surged 7.5% on another favorable legal development.

Microsoft fell for a second day on an internal memo detailing challenges the company faces from the economy and the open source movement. VA Software and Red Hat soared on the news.

HP surged 4% after setting a messaging performance record.

Lucent rose 4% on China R&D plans.

Maxim and Xilinx declined on mixed guidance.

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