Intel's fourth-quarter performance exceeded expectations, with the company recording a $2.3 billion profit ($0.40 per share), up nearly 10-fold from the same period in 2008. Analysts predicted earnings of $0.30 per share. Quarterly sales totaled $10.6 billion, a 28% increase from a year ago, topping the forecasted $10.2 billion.

For the entire year, Intel posted a $4.4 billion profit ($0.77 per share), on revenue of $35.1 billion, which compares to 2008's earnings of $5.3 billion ($0.92 per share) on revenue of $37.6 billion. According to Thomas Weisel Partners analyst Kevin Cassidy, Intel's Atom carried the company through the year. It was also noted that the chipmaker is confident about upcoming corporate IT spending.

On a semi-related note, the computer industry as a whole rebounded. According to IDC, the PC market grew 24% on-year during the fourth quarter, establishing a new record of nearly 20.7 million units shipped. Vendors across the board witnessed gains, including HP, Acer, Dell, Lenovo and Toshiba.