Intel's (INTC -3.6%) partial blaming of weaker-than-expected Q4 server CPU division sales (revenue +8% Y/Y, but volumes only +1% Y/Y and -3% Q/Q) on a government shutdown comes across as a "bad excuse," thinks FBR.
Though reiterating an Outperform, FBR is skeptical about Intel's long-term 15% revenue CAGR target for its server CPU division. Bernstein questioned the division's growth outlook yesterday afternoon.
Goldman, reiterating a Sell (previous), says Intel's numbers "confirm our view that there is downside, not upside, to Intel's 2014 EPS." It's worried about both server CPU sales and a softening corporate PC upgrade cycle (driven by the Windows 7 transition) following Q1.
A major headwind faced by Intel's server CPU unit: Server industry revenues have been steadily declining, as demand shifts towards Web/cloud service providers with bigger economies of scale and a penchant for using cheap white-label hardware. IDC estimates total server sales fell 3.7% Y/Y in Q3, and that x86 server sales rose just 2.8%.
Microsoft (MSFT -1.6%) and AMD (AMD -1.1%) are ticking lower following Intel's report. So are server virtualization kingpin VMware (VMW -1.9%), parent EMC (EMC -0.9%), and rival Citrix (CTXS -0.8%). Intel suggested on its CC virtualization growth is softening.