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Intel’s (NASDAQ:INTC) fourth-quarter earnings report looks like a mixed bag for investors. Revenue of $9.7 billion came in right at the top of the $9.1 - $9.7 billion range that the company forecast when it reported third quarter results. (The Street consensus was $9.4 billion.) The company reported GAAP EPS of 26 cents a share, a penny above expectations. Results included one-time gains of 2.5 cents a share on asset sales, offset by 1.5 cents a share in restructuring costs.

The company’s fourth-quarter gross margin was 49.6%, which is up from 49.1% in the third quarter; however, the company had said it expected a gross margin of 50%, give or take a couple of points. Not a big miss, but possibly disappointing nonetheless.

Intel finished the year with 94,100 employees, down from 102,500 at mid-year and slightly below the company’s target of 95,000.

The company said microprocessor unit sales set a record, with a higher average selling price, due to a mix shift to “leading-edge processors in all segments along with growth in mobile as a percentage of the PC microprocessor mix.”

On a sequential basis, revenue was up 1% in Japan from the third quarter, 6% in the Americas, 13% in Asia-Pacific and 18% in EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa.) On a year-over-year basis, though, sales were up 5% in the Americas, but down 1% in Japan, down 5% in Asia-Pacific and down 17% in EMEA.

Intel said it expects first quarter revenue of $8.7 - $9.3 billion; the Street has been expecting $8.9 billion. The company said it expects gross margin in the quarter of 49%, plus or minus a couple of points.

For 2007, the company expects gross margin to be 50%, as usual plus or minus a couple of points. The company did not provide revenue guidance for the full year. It did say that it expects capital spending to be $5.5 billion, “plus or minus $200 million.” Intel said the forecast includes significantly higher spending for the ramp of Intel’s 45 nm process technology, “more than offset by savings in a variety of areas.”

In after-hours trading, Intel shares are down 48 cents to $21.82. Shares of rival Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE:AMD) are down 13 cents at $18.

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Source: Intel's Fourth-Quarter Earnings Report: A Mixed Bag