Even though 2009 has been a rather unfavorable year for the IT market in general, and especially for semiconductor manufacturing, the fourth quarter still seems to be going strong, with system builders still placing hefty amounts of orders with both Intel and Advanced Micro Devices. FBR Capital Markets is quite optimistic about the closing quarter of the current year.
"Potential 2010 catalysts include some corporate refresh benefits from Windows 7 (consumer sell-through seems reasonably robust so far); additional netbook, nettop, and consumer ultra-low-voltage (CULV) units; and increased touch-panel applications," analyst Craig Berger wrote in a research note.
Notebook builds are expected to grow by 10 percent compared to the previous quarter (quarter-over-quarter/QoQ) and desktop shipments are rather strong as well, even though the actual QoQ percentage is down by 16%. This implies that the total fourth quarter builds are no longer expected to drop by 2%, with estimates suggesting a total decline of only a 1%. AMD showed somewhat less growth, specifically about 3-4%, due to it being more focused on the desktop segment instead of the more popular mobile market.
On the other hand, AMD revenues are expected to fall seasonally to around $1.4 billion in Q1 2010, implying that the actual decline would be of four to eight percent. The way this market decline can coexist with actual company growth shown by AMD and Intel is explained by the possibility of OEMs and ODMs using existing inventories in building systems.
"Oftentimes Intel's CPUs are put into PCs at the last possible moment, so some PC builds in 3Q end up as Intel CPU shipments in 4Q