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Forbes.com has a great piece on former microprocessing kingpin Intel, which held its annual meeting today (being Wednesday). The lowdown on the thoroughly reported story is that Intel may be building things up higher (or better) than they actually are.

At the meeting, Intel employees were busy rolling out the red carpet for investors - dubious investors, according to Forbes. But it was the kind of eagerness that psychologists might call forced coersion, i.e. making the best of an increasingly bad situation.

Says Forbes: "Intel's investors could certainly use some fun, however geeky. Intel shares are down almost 25% this year. And problems with Intel's NAND flash memory business caused Intel to lower its gross profit guidance to 54% of sales, from 56%, late Monday. "This business will not be a drag on the Intel Corporation," CEO Paul Otellini said Wednesday. "We are going to fix it."

Intel is feeling its age, especially coming through a few years of painful restructuring Intel Chief Financial Officer Stacy Smith, quoted in the Forbes piece, said that the rebooting will continue apace, with Intel cutting its workforce from 100,000 employees to about 80,000 "once it completes a deal to spin off a portion of its memory business, which will specialize in a kind of memory designed to store the software widely used to run devices such as cameras and other electronics, later this year," Forbes said. The business outlook appears a bit rosier, with Intel grabbing a bigger slice of the microprocessor from key competitor Advanced Micro Devices, especially in the PC and server markets.

Next up? World domination? Or the computer microchip equivalent. "With Intel once more dominating the market for leading-edge microprocessors in everything from computer servers to Apple's waifish MacBook Air notebook, Otellini laid out plans to crack open four $10 billion markets. They include slim form factor Web-browsing gizmos; embedded processors for devices such as point-of-sale systems; cheap laptop and desktop computers aimed at kids and customers in developing markets; and chips for consumer electronics devices."

"We are going to go after new markets, and specifically new products with low price points," Otellini told Forbes.

Investors remain skeptical. It's high-profile alliance with Apple notwithstanding, Intel is going to have to bring more to the table.

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