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By Michael Matthews, Benzinga Staff Writer

Analysts are expecting about a 4% drop in earnings from a year earlier when Intel (INTC) reports earnings this afternoon, while many will be watching to see if the chipmaker will be forced to revise its PC growth forecast.

The world's largest chipmaker is still expecting PC growth in the high-single digits for fiscal 2012, yet the global PC market appeared to stall in Q2. Shipments fell slightly in the second quarter, according to the market research firm International Data Corporation. Also, IDC added that the U.S. market shrunk 10.6%, worse than expected.

The release of Ultrabook notebook computers has yet to boost volumes. Also, some consumers may be waiting to buy new computers until the release of Microsoft Windows 8 later this year.

Intel stands at a disadvantage because it is still not a major player in tablet computers. The research firm DisplaySearch projects that tablet computers will exceed notebook shipments in 2016. At risk for Intel is what would be a four-quarter string of increasing net income, and possibly its fifth-straight quarter of double-digit revenue gains.

Analysts tracking Intel are expecting earnings of 52 cents a share, down from 54 cents a year earlier. Gross margins are expected to be about 62%, down from 64% in the previous quarter. Revenue is expected to be $13.56 billion.

Chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) already warned of an 11% sequential sales decline for Q2, citing softness in Europe, a slow down in Asia, and business that is still poking along in the U.S. It also mentioned recent Intel price cuts.

Hardware makers including Seagate (STX) and Acer (OTC:ACEIF) also warned for Q2.

Equipment-maker Applied Materials' (AMAT) also issued a profit warning earlier this month. That would not be expected if global chip companies were significantly boosting their output.

Still, it remains to be seen if analysts have dropped earnings estimates enough on Intel for the stock to hold July lows at $24.68. Another level of interest is cross-trendline support from the April 2010 and 2011 highs, near $23.50.

Disclaimer: Neither Benzinga nor its staff recommend that you buy, sell, or hold any security. We do not offer investment advice, personalized or otherwise. Benzinga recommends that you conduct your own due diligence and consult a certified financial professional for personalized advice about your financial situation.

Source: Intel May Have To Revise 2012 PC Forecast