The big picture: Intel beat analyst estimates for Q4 2019 with revenue in excess of $20 billion, mostly thanks to increased demand for its server chips. The company expects to do particularly well in the first half of 2020, but AMD still has a chance of chipping away more market share in the consumer space.
Intel recently regained its title as the world's largest semiconductor vendor measured by revenue, after Samsung experienced a significant dip in sales due to an oversupply of DRAM and NAND chips, coupled with lackluster demand. But more importantly, demand for Intel's server processors is very strong and the company is selling Xeons like hotcakes to tech giants looking to bolster their data centers. Intel reported impressive earnings for Q4 2019, with revenue growing 8 percent year-over-year to $20.2 billion.
This means the company was able to beat analyst expectations of $19.2 billion, as no one expected a big 19 percent growth for the data center group. Investors were very happy with the results, sending shares up as much as 7 percent in after hours trading.
In spite of fierce competition from AMD on the consumer CPU market, the Client Computing Group posted more than $10 billion in revenue, which is a modest, two percent increase year-over-year, and higher than the expected $9.75 billion.
Memory and storage products brought in over $1.2 billion in revenue, which was a bit underwhelming but not unexpected considering other manufacturers like Samsung, Micron and SK Hynix saw an even bigger hit on that front.
Even as Intel greatly scaled back its IoT efforts, the Internet of Things Group brought in no less than $1.16 billion in revenue. All of this has made shareholders happy as they saw returns of $19.2 billion over the course of last year. For 2020, Intel expects to post a record total of $73.5 billion revenue of which $19 billion will come during the first quarter, though we'll have to wait and see if the company manages to sort out its consumer CPU supply issues.
For now, Intel is said to be using Samsung to fullfill orders for 14nm chips, and it looks like AMD still has a big window of opportunity to gain market share in the consumer space.
Intel itself wouldn't seem overly focused on beating AMD in the consumer side. CEO Bob Swan's new direction for the company means it's willing to trade dominance in traditional markets for tackling new ones that offer better growth opportunities, such as FPGAs and machine learning.
The proof is also in Intel's recent $2 billion acquisition of Habana Labs to spearhead its AI efforts, as well as the hiring of a former AMD lead executive to produce discrete GPUs. If anything, Intel is on the right course under new leadership, but it still has to play catch up in the race to 7nm and beyond.