Brian.oco 0 Posting Whiz

It’s a big day for semiconductor stocks, with an upbeat forecast from chip giant Intel boosting stocks in other semiconductor companies and giving the overall market a nice bounce, as well.

Through mid-morning trading, Intel is up $1, to $22 per share. Other chip companies are following suit . . .

-- Texas Instruments Inc. up 38 cents to $29.10
-- Qualcomm Inc., up 74 cents to $41.93
-- Advanced Micro Devices Inc. up 16 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $5.94

Although Intel’s net income fell by 12% for the quarter, thanks to costs incurred in the company’s recent restructuring campaign, the company says its financial picture is a bright one, as is the financial outlook for the entire semiconductor industry.

A break in the economic clouds? Maybe. The chip industry is a legitimate bellwether for the U.S. and global economy. With a better-than-expected forecast from Intel, the thinking on the part of investors is maybe – just maybe – the economy isn’t in as much trouble as many think.

So that sound you hearing from Wall Street is a mass exhale. "Overall, Intel delivered exactly what the market needed: a calming reassurance that macroeconomic weakness was not having an accelerating affect on PC, and by proxy, technology demand," said analyst Cody Acree of Stifel Nicolaus.

Buoyed by strong sales across all sectors and markets, Intel reported earnings of $1.44 billion, or 25 cents a share, compared with profit of $1.64 billion, or 28 cents a share, in the year-earlier quarter. Revenue rose to $9.7 billion from $8.85 billion. The numbers were well in line with what analysts had anticipated.

In a conference call with analysts, Intel Chief Executive Paul Otellini said that the company would continue its transition into the personal computer market, saying "the shipment crossover of desktop PCs to mobile PCs will now happen this year and not next year as we originally anticipated." Otellini also said the company’s edge over chip rivals in the burgeoning nanotechnology market seems to be growing.

"We remain optimistic about our growth opportunities as we continue to reap the benefits of our 45-nanometer technology leadership," he said.

"Our first quarter results demonstrate a strengthening core business and a solid global market environment," Otellini added. "We saw healthy demand for our leading-edge processors and chipsets across all segments. Looking forward, we remain optimistic about our growth opportunities..."

That’s good, maybe even great news for the semiconductor sector, and possibly for the entire U.S. economy. Says technology analyst John Barton of Cowen and Company "We expect the solid March quarter results and healthy June guidance should set a positive tone throughout the semi industry providing a significant catalyst to these shares."

Good news on a warm, sunny, spring day on Wall Street.

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